When I say that I am focusing on love instead of politics, I know that, to some people, it sounds like a pile of Pollyanna new age bullshit.
I know that it may sound like I am distancing myself from the so-called real world. Floating off on a cloud of rainbows and butterflies. Yet, the truth is, focusing on love helps me let the real world in with less fear.
The love that I am focusing on is not romantic love 0r even the compassion that arises when we encounter suffering. In this case, the love that I focus on is the love that I feel for the earth and all living beings – and which I know the earth feels for me. I focus on big love, planet-sized, cosmic love and then, I plunge into the melee of being a human being at this time in history.
Focusing on love allows me to stay curious. I begin listening and watching and learning about the issues we are facing as a nation – and as a global community. I ask questions and let guidance lead me to the books, teachers, and discussions that can inform my search for context, for patterns, for a meaningful pursuit of solutions.
Focusing on love does not mean that I pretend that terrible things are not real – things like racism, terrorism and the worldwide refugee crisis. Things like child abuse, spousal abuse, and the abuse of people who are different from us. Things which plague us at the personal level: addiction, depression, mental and physical illness. And violence – such terrible violence in the world: war and murder, rape and sexual trafficking, child soldiers and child pornography. There is so much going on – and all at once – that it can easily overwhelm us.
So it’s not that I don’t acknowledge that all of this is real – and it’s not that I don’t do my part to stop it – it’s just that I work hard to not let these things spin me into terror.
I consume the news carefully, respectfully – paying attention without being taken over by the 24/7 coverage of every awful thing that happens in the world. I look for news sources I can trust to report without excess bias, though truly, I have a bias toward love – and toward life-sustaining thoughts, words and actions. So I am feeling for that – and for its opposite.
As I watch, I am feeling for the parts of the story which inspire and move me – and noticing the parts which trigger and upset me: hateful speech, blaming and shaming, and other fear-sustaining thoughts, words, and actions.
I do not look for perfection.I do not look to wipe ‘bad’ things from the face of the earth. I know that holding that as my goal would turn ME into a terrorist.
I am able to hold the tension of opposites in my own heart as I face the world – as it is – and ask my questions.
When I ask: Where are the choices toward life – and toward love? I can easily see the answer: limiting access to automatic weapons because automatic weapons kill lots of people at the same time. (I am not a fan of handguns either – or rifles – but at least, if a killer has to reload, more lives, more loves, will be spared.)
When I ask: What is the choice that supports victim AND perpetrator? I am not turning my back on the victims of these terrible crimes. I am seeing that all of us are victims. And I am seeing that the obvious answer is: increase the wait time for purchasing guns. (I am not a fan of purchasing guns at all. If it were up to me, all guns would be instantly turned into magic wands. But I digress.)
I am turning toward my own life and asking: What can I do, in my own life, to soften the trend toward violence and hate speech in this world? And I am taking responsibility for every hateful word I’ve spoken to my husband, to the stranger on the phone who calls to ask me to catch up on a late bill payment. I am treating every person I encounter as a gift of life, as love emerging before me.
I am including, in my prayers, every terrorist who believes that he or she is doing the right thing – while not turning my back on the people who’ve lost their beloved friends and sons and daughters this week and last month and far too many times.
I am refusing to let this make me hateful, hostile, reactive. I am turning away from the blame/shame game. I am turning my heart toward the beauty, emerging in my garden – digging in the soil, surrounded by birdsong, as I am WORKING MY PRAYER to end violence – all violence.
I am returning to the center of the message of love and peace. And from there, I am deeply. personally involved.