Yesterday I was informed that a relative's car had been stolen. Out of their driveway. While they slept.
Inside were only a few items, but of those items were car seats for their two kids and a reflective monkey mirror (for watching their infant while driving).
I cannot imagine the heart and thoughts of someone who would steal a car while a playful monkey reflects to them two child seats...and information about the lives from which they are taking.
Fifteen minutes later I came across this link shared on Facebook:
and the follow up post here:
If you have not read them (or before you click over to do so), they detail the story of a woman who has received hate directed at her online - including death threats. Her friend is not in a better position. He is in the midst of a personal family tragedy that certainly threatens his business and way of living and possibly threatens his life.
I went to bed with a heavy heart.
I want to make it very clear: I still believe life is beautiful. I still believe everything is ok. It might sound odd to say that. But it is the faith that makes every bit of difference. (Keep reading if you are confused)
(Note: As far as the online story, I will admit that I do not know any of the parties involved personally. I don't know who is telling the truth and who is stretching it a bit. I will admit that if I walked away from the computer, the stories don't influence me directly in any way.)
Awareness of the destructive forces in the world has made its way to the forefront of my life. I am reminded of people operating out of fear, desire for power and things, people living unexamined lives where ignorance spins into anger which spins into action.
I am well aware that all of this goes on. I am aware of SO much more than this. People dying of hunger, women forced into prostitution, ...heart-wrenching situations that make a stolen car almost seem desirable in comparison.
I am also well aware of how unbelievably fortunate I am. I am sheltered from much of this. I have a choice to click off the news if it gets overwhelming (instead of listening the bombing outside my window). I am not well-known enough or sharing messages provocative enough to draw hate mail and death threats online. I have constant access to clean, running water. I have food, shelter, love, and health and was raised in a safe and loving environment. Yeah, I'm fortunate.
I believe that my awareness must include all of this.
I believe that we all must heal ourselves and expand our awareness.
Our awareness must include that someone right now just delivered a healthy baby; that someone else just committed suicide. That someone's car was just stolen; someone's life just threatened; someone's memories forever altered by their first magical kiss.
Believe it or not, that is the easy part. The hard part is where we must begin; with ourselves.
Again and again, we must return to that within us that drives every single action taken on the outside.
Think back to your reactions from the stories. When you think of the person stealing the car, what are your feelings? What would you do if you were face to face with him/her?
Online. What comments did you/would you leave on the site of the person spewing slurs and harmful messages? How would you react to another commenter cheering them on? What do you think of the person who just copied your idea and claimed it as their own; sells things in a totally unethical manner; writes deeply honest thoughts online or writes shallow and from a place of fear?
In your own life. What thoughts do you have towards the person tailgating you? Of the boss harassing you? The co-worker not working fast enough (or too fast)? The person serving you who just threw you the wrong order and doesn't seem to care? The mother in front of you in the grocery line with the screaming kid? Your own self when you are alone??
The stories of death-threats from an online presence have me just a teeny bit afraid (or at least hesitant to be too public about my opinions). I will admit I checked my own car in the driveway last night and made sure everything was locked. I also kissed my children, celebrated an opportunity that came my way, and deeply enjoyed my evening.
I hold all of this in my awareness because I have a responsibility to. If I am indeed here to experience this life, I have no more right to turn away from the hate being shown in this world than I do to turn from the love being shown in my own family.
I am fortunate because I am healed (enough) to do this. It is painful. But damn it, it is time.
YOU HAVE TO START WITH YOU.
To some degree, everyone touts wanting a peaceful world. At the very least, everyone wants love in their lives.
To have peace in the world, you must have peace in your heart. To have love in your life, you must be and share love. It isn't something fluffy or nice to consider during times of meditation - it is something that must be woven into your life.
Heal yourself. Hold what you can in your awareness - work to constantly expand that awareness. Watch your words (including those seemingly harmless comments you leave on Facebook). Watch your emotions (as they arise inevitably throughout the day). Watch your loved ones and make sure they know that they are loved.
We must deal with the stolen cars and the death threats in the most effective way possible: by examining and adjusting our own thoughts and behaviors.