"I believe love wins, and find it does no good to read the negative news that I have little control over. I don’t have control over world affairs. I can vote. I can write articles and support candidates whom I believe are humble, honorable, wise, and driven to do the right thing."
Yesterday, I unsubscribed from The New York Times, Washington Post, and a few other news outlets. I am not trying to drop out of knowing what is going on. Rather, I found myself just wasting time. It is not productive and it does not feed my soul to read or see that President Trump did another stupid thing, told another lie, or ridiculed another person. It also does not help if I mindlessly repost another Facebook cartoon condemning all the things we’re doing to destroy our planet.
I believe love wins, and find it does no good to read the negative news that I have little control over. I don’t have control over world affairs. I can vote. I can write articles and support candidates whom I believe are humble, honorable, wise, and driven to do the right thing.
But in the end, I am peeing in an ocean of opinions, and mostly talking to people who mostly agree with my worldview. We love to have our ideas supported, after all. I suspect that there are not a lot of Fox News addicts reading this column.
In my last column, I wrote about how tiny acts of heroism can transform the world. In this column, I want to write about the importance of sharing and living our values, views, and truth. I also want to consider how a daily practice of prayer, meditation, and reflection has kept me semi-sane in the face of so much negative news. I was still a child yet remember vividly my mom and dad in near tears as we learned of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Again, I experienced these emotions when Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed. By MLK’s death, however, I was older and could enter the conversation. The idea JFK would be killed for their ideas went against what I thought a good and just world would look like. These horrible events affected my worldview from a young age.
Today, it seems that killing those with a different view is just the way it is. Society kills people all the time by ridicule, shouting matches, spreading untruths and rumors, and yes, even by sending a stealth drone. It seems all the same to many citizens and leaders in our world today. We kill when we are indifferent, inactive, and passive in light of our responsibilities as spiritual travelers on our planet.
With climate change, injustice, tribalism, and so much currently in discord, we must take a stand as leaders with courage and wisdom. We are all called to be the change. Readers of Spirituality & Health tend to be coming from a connected place of spirituality. At its core, spirituality is about acknowledging our responsibility to seek truth, follow truth, live in a place of truth, and be courageous about it. Truth is freedom, and freedom comes from knowing that we are all one. That simply leads us all to one place: love.
How do we best express love in a courageous, truthful way? We simply ask! We ask our neighbors, “How can I love you better?” We ask our earth, “How can I love you better?” We ask our politicians, “How can I love you better?” And in the Buddhist tradition, we ask those who hate us or have hurt us horribly, “How can I love you better?” The path that comes from a place of love is about courage. Courage is the gateway virtue that gives life to all other virtues and allows us to be vulnerable and say, “How can I love you better?”
Our world is a mess and we Spiritual Folks must start with ourselves by taking off the basket to let our values, character, virtues, and love sing out. We must as a group get active.
At the same time, we must act to avoid burnout, so keep your prayer, reflection, and meditation practice engaged. It is also important to have supportive friends and a church community or spiritual sangha to hang with. Alone, and as a group, we must work to seal the door where evil dwells.
And we must do it now.
Take Care of Yourself
As I wrote this essay, I listened to my jogging playlist. Music can inspire us, calm us, and feed our soul. We must feed our soul to keep strong. Jesus spent 40 days in the desert. The spiritual action heroes Thích Nhat Hanh, Pope Francis, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama keep a schedule that assures they have plenty time for meditation, prayer, renewal, and reflection. We need to do this too. I am reminded of advice from a wise sage who once said, “If you don’t have time to meditate 20 minutes a day, the antidote to that malaise is to meditate for 40 minutes!”
Paul’s Running Playlist
“Be the Change,” by MC Yogi
“Let It Be,” by the Beatles
“Don’t Worry Be Happy,” by Bobby McFerrin
“Be the Change,” by MC Yogi
“Happy,” by the cast of Glee
“Hello Brother,” by Louis Armstrong
“Oxygen,” by Renee Fleming
“Movin’ On Up,” by Third Day