Scary things are afoot. I’m fortunate not to live in an area of high terrorist threat. I can sleep at night. That’s not the case for people in Nigeria, France and lots of other places. Like many other concerned citizens of the world, I want to help. I’m especially concerned that horror and fear will harden people’s hearts as much as rage hardens the terrorists’. Terror, rage and hatred —What can we do? (And that “we” includes ‘Charlie Hebdo.’)
We need to do the most important thing of all: Evolve Consciously. This means doing our own inner work to grow up. It means to evolve into more fully human beings–get over racism, get over hate, get over ourselves! It’s time to realize how closed our hearts really are, to ourselves and to each other. Closed is unhealthy. It’s time to open our eyes; open our hearts. Music can help. Leonard Cohen’s “Anthem” is a song that reaches deep. The melody is stirring and the lyrics are profound. They reflect the pain of global struggle, yet Cohen is still able to inspire hope:
“Ring the bells that still can ring / Forget your perfect offering / There is a crack, a crack in everything / That’s how the light gets in.” (Nothing and no one is perfect; we have to break in order to heal.)
“Every heart, every heart / to love will come / But like a refugee.” (Not maybe but will. Yes? Have a listen and tell me what you think.) For the lyrics, click here.
“Anthem” by Leonard Cohen
What Will It Take?
What will it take to open hearts hardened by fear, rage, apathy or anything else? Must it take feeling a sense of profound loss, “like a refugee”? From another Cohen song (included in Part I of this blog): “The heart has got to open in a fundamental way.”
The message is clear: Hate is not the answer, nor is egotism, nor is head-level thinking, which has already wreaked too much devastation. The only answer is LOVE. Nothing namby pamby—this is potent stuff!
The negative masculine way has got to stop dominating. The world is sick of it. Healthy masculine and feminine energy must come together (take it as you will, Beatles’ song included) and start effecting a transformation of the world. Yin and Yang are designed to work together, not apart. Let’s get off our butts!
Love is Power
Consider the words of the French paleontologist, philosopher and priest, Teilhard de Chardin. What if Teilhard is right about the power of love? What if the “energies of love” are capable of releasing a power much greater than that of any guns, bombs or hate?
LOVE is the only power that can evolve humankind beyond the madness of same-old violent aggression.
Leonard Cohen and Teilhard de Cardin reveal a wisdom of the heart. So does Lǎozi 老子, or Lao Tzu as he is called in the West. Approximately 2600 years ago, this Chinese Taoist sage shared a brilliant, heart-infused definition of power. He wrote: “Mastery of others is strength; mastery of self is power.” In keeping with the spirit of Taoism and with the horror of terrorism in mind, I have added two words to the normal translation of the quote: brutish and humble.
Here’s my take: Lao Tzu is talking about conscious evolution. He’s telling us that true power comes from within. It involves the working together of intellect and heart. It develops slowly, naturally and only as the result of honest self-examination and the taking of responsibility for one’s own life. Some refer to this mastery of self as “spiritual work”; others, as “personal work.”
Self-mastery is the true power, and true power emanates from a humble spirit. It is not easy to come by, I know, but what else is really worth such profound effort?
A little over two months ago, I visited the new campus of the Northwest Polytechnical University in Xi’an, China. I was moved by a sculpture that was commissioned to epitomize the philosophy of the university. A warrior is bowed, his face touching the ground. He is self-disciplined, a peaceful warrior. He represents “Power with Humility.”
Terrorists and bullies, no matter of what persuasion, display no humility. Rather, they display arrogance. What’s being perpetrated by fanatics in the name of religion represents a brutish, arrogant attempt at mastery. And what’s being perpetrated by fools in the name of “freedom of speech” also represents a brutish, arrogant attempt at mastery.
Sowing the Seeds of Karma?
Terrorists are psychotic killers. Why then is Charlie Hebdo continuing with the needless middle-finger provocation at what is sacred for Muslims”?!
“Just because we can, na nah na, you can’t catch us!” We Are Right. (Look at last blog, Part I: WAR.) Really, is this what it boils down to? Sandbox level mentality with the deadliest of consequences?
We’re All in This Thing Called Life Together
Charlie Hebdo’s messages are extremely offensive, and not just to the millions of Muslims of the world. For those unaware, Muslims happen to be the biggest target of Islamic crazed fundamentalists. “If you don’t subscribe to our way, you are one of them and must die!” For instance, Boko Haram slaughtered 2000 innocent villagers in Nigeria the same day Charlie Hebdo was attacked. Why hurt innocent people even more? If anything, most Muslims in the world need and deserve our support! We have a common enemy—extremist wackos on a holier-than-thou rampage. It’s time for the West to stop being so blithely arrogant.
Freedom, Responsibility and Wise Restraint
Charlie Hebdo has the “democratic right” to freedom of speech, but isn’t Charlie’s flaunting of this freedom really sowing seeds of more destruction? In my view, the aggressive exercising of this “right” should be subjugated to the humane responsibility of:
- showing respect to 20 % of the world’s population
- trying to protect innocent people from psychotic killers
Perhaps the publishers of Charlie Hebdo figure restraint would be showing disloyalty to their colleagues who died? Perhaps the buyers of the paper feel the same way? But which would you prefer: a greater chance at staying alive, or a greater insistence on demonstrating our “right,” which just might lead to being dead?
As I wrote in Part I of this blog, Charlie Hebdo’s stopping the provocation would NOT equate to caving in! It would not mean their “winning” and our so-called “losing.” And what about all the people buying the hate-mongering paper? Aren’t we better than that?
“Discretion is the better part of valor.” Wise restraint equates with being stronger than our low level impulses. Taking the low road is letting ego run the show, good ole ego, the thing that’s caused every bloody conflict the world has ever seen.
How about we take the High Road? Let our Higher Selves take command? Doesn’t the High Road lead people out of danger better than any low road? I think so.