Maintaining a fearless optimism in the face of pain, suffering, trauma and violence may seem impossible. How does one acknowledge the suffering of the world, yet not become a product and extension of that suffering? Maintaining a sense of peace and wellbeing through the tumultuous and chaotic occurrences of our world has taken me some time to accomplish.
I used to be very reactive and deeply intertwined with the pain and suffering of others. I realized from a very early age that at any given moment many people in the world are experiencing oppression, injustice, physical harm, abuse and danger, usually by and from the hands of other human beings. Often times those people suffering are an arms-length away. Trying to rationalize why humans inflict pain and suffering upon others seems futile, but I cannot accept that hurting others is natural or acceptable--even if it does seem to occur on a regular basis.
Death, destruction and violence do occur in the natural world--but most of the causes of the violence we perceive in nature are either impersonal and based on survival or are caused by rapidly shifting elemental forces (e.g., super storms, tornadoes, earthquakes, volcanoes).
Humans are a part of nature, but I believe that much of the pain and suffering we inflict upon our fellow humans comes from a place of unconsciousness. The pain that we project onto our brothers and sisters of humanity comes from a place of debilitating disconnection, fear and illusion. If human violence, pain and suffering stem from unconsciousness, disconnection, fear and illusion, then it would follow that the antidotes to these problems are consciousness, connection, love and truth.
Hope dwells inside me, because I know it is possible for humans to evolve into more conscious beings. I know it is possible for humans to discover who they are and how they can live up to their highest, best selves. I believe that humans can become accountable and take responsibility for their actions without hiding behind a color, a gender, a political party, a uniform or some other mask of identity. I believe that humans can truly awaken to the greatness that is inside of them without feeling threatened by another’s greatness.
I am hopeful because I know that humans can become more connected to themselves and to the communities they belong to. As a collective, I know we can become more accountable to the larger community and realize that our actions and beliefs have either a positive or a negative effect on others that can ripple through generations of time. Each and every human is connected to something greater than his or her self--what we do and think and how we behave impacts those around us. We have full control of how we impact those around us; we have full control of the quality and value of the communities that we exist in.
Love is a universal force that allows life to exist. Humans cannot exist in this world without love, and most of us had the privilege to be nurtured and deeply cared for when we could not care for ourselves. The human spirit is nourished through, and by, love. The more love, compassion and kindness we cultivate in our hearts, the more we can spread to others. Love is the only emotion that can smother out the fear that many of us are weighed down by. Fear hijacks the true nature of the human spirit and causes it to do atrocious acts to its own self and to those around it.
No one has a monopoly on truth, and I believe that we are all co-existing in competing realities. But escaping illusion means not being in denial about the actions of our lives. Escaping illusion means avoiding the pitfall of arrogance, pride and self-righteousness. Seeing the truth means not becoming a victim of cognitive dissonance to the injustice around us. Embracing truth means living a life of integrity, honesty and authenticity.
I remain hopeful when confronted with the lowest nature of human beings because I have seen what we are capable of. Humans are resilient and adaptable creatures--I know we can transform ourselves and by extension our communities into something greater than we have ever imagined.