This is possibly the most difficult topic to write about when emotions are high and the pain is raw. The tragic events of Orlando, the loss of 49 human lives listed here http://www.cityoforlando.net/blog/victims/ , of Philando Castile, Alton Sterling and the 5 police officers in Dallas, and the young singer, Christina Gimmie, is a devastating blow to humanity and the fundamental values of being human: happiness, love and life itself. We support and send love to our fellow brothers and sisters with our deepest condolences for all affected by these tragedies in Orlando.
By writing this piece, I seek not to change the world or people – I simply seek a deeper understanding of that which I have no control over and how others react to any given situation. I am writing this piece to dig deeper within myself – to find peace in the wake of this tragedy and acceptance of what is beyond my control. How can anyone make sense of the insensible? In times of conflict, I find there are several virtues that help me to gain strength and insight. The following virtues call to me to create within me and with others unity, peace, tolerance, acceptance, compassion and love.
We are all part of the collective consciousness – that which is created when all human beings are united. While we all have a sense of individual identity, these outer identities often divide us and keep us from true connection. When we begin to see the truth behind the outside layers – we find our true self and that true self is the source of connection to all. Our true self has no judgments or opinions. Ego and pride do not exist. At the core of our true self is LOVE. Life becomes more and more complicated when we clutter it with opinions and judgments. But when we practice simplicity, we enjoy simply being.
Tolerance is the balance we need when others’ beliefs differ from our own. Each person experiences life through her own unique perspective. Who am I to judge another’s perspective? I cannot see through their eyes. I may share my perspective, but I am not an authority on another person’s path. I respect that each person has their own path to walk. When I respect another’s path, I am able to connect with these individuals with a mutual purpose of existence. I can identify and have a sense of harmony with all creation. Compassion: Flows freely from our hearts when we let go of judgments and seek to understand. Refrain from judging. When I accept life on its own terms and avoid judgment and criticism I begin to find peace and true connection.
Unity, I believe, is the way all humans survive, or should I say, thrive! At times of loss, I witness people comforting each other and coming together. However, I also witness others arguing and blaming, retaliating and seeking revenge. The will to carry on with hope and courage is aided by forbearance. It is having patience, fortitude and acceptance under trying circumstances. We tolerate hardship with good grace. We quietly call on our self-restraint. I am accepting in times of trouble. I tolerate what I cannot control. I use self-restraint to control my emotions. I am patient and forgiving of others.
I took a few phrases from The Virtues Project™ Reflection Cards and summarized collectively the words that brought me the most insight, inspiration, and comfort in seeking peace, understanding, unity and during this difficult time. Calling upon the virtues, I included a prayer that guides my thinking and actions. I have also included the guiding insights of The Four Noble Truths and The Noble Eightfold Path. I do hope the words that follow, inspire peace, comfort and hope in your hearts, and love and acceptance of all people.
Kindness: Caring that springs from compassion. A genuine concern for the welfare of others. We listen for the needs beneath the words. When we feel angry, we resist the temptation to be cruel. We are good stewards of the earth and all living things. I have empathy for others – I notice what people need – I love to be helpful – I am thoughtful in little ways – I practice good habits that help the earth – I am a good caregiver to myself –
If I show and give myself kindness, I create within me the ability to show and give kindness to the world. (For I cannot transmit what I don’t have).
Peacefulness: An inner calm and tranquility. Release the past and let anxiety go. We do not give in to anger. Giving up the love of power for the power of love. We choose the UNITY of PEACE over the fragmentation of FEAR. Peace in the world begins with peace in our lives. Choose UNITY over DISCORD!
Unity: A powerful virtue that brings great strength. Unity is inclusiveness – it brings people together. We see our commonality without devaluing our differences. We experience our connectedness with all people and all life. Unity frees us from the divisiveness of prejudice and heals our fears. We refuse to engage in conflict, seeking peace in all circumstances. Unity comes when we value every person, in our family or in our world. The joy of one is the joy of all. The hurt of one is the hurt of all. The honor of one is the honor of all. I am a lover of humanity, I seek common ground. I appreciate differences. I resolve conflict peacefully. I honor the value of each individual. I am a unifier. Unity makes me an instrument of peace.
“We know that we are the ones who are divided and we are the ones who must come back together to walk in the Sacred Way.”
-- Ojiway Prayer, Oneworld Book of Prayer, p. 152
“Forbearance is the greatest virtue. Cover the blemishes, faults and weaknesses of others. Excuse their feelings, bury their weakness in silence…and forgive.”
– Karunamayi, 21st Century Guru
(Prayer of St Francis of Assisi)
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Alcoholics Anonymous version in the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions:
Lord, make me a channel of thy peace;
that where there is hatred, I may bring love;
that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness;
that where there is discord, I may bring harmony;
that where there is error, I may bring truth;
that where there is doubt, I may bring faith;
that where there is despair, I may bring hope;
that where there are shadows, I may bring light;
that where there is sadness, I may bring joy.
Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted;
to understand, than to be understood;
to love, than to be loved.
For it is by self-forgetting that one finds.
It is by forgiving that one is forgiven.
It is by dying that one awakens to eternal life.
The guidance of and wisdom from:
The Four Noble Truths and The Noble Eightfold Path
1.) To live is to suffer
2.) Suffering comes from desire
3.) To end suffering, end desire
4.) Release from suffering is possible and can be attained by following the Noble Eightfold Path:
The Noble Eightfold Path: The Way to Inner Peace
1.) Right to understanding
I recognize the impermanence of life, the mechanism of desire, and the cause of suffering
2.) Right Intention
My thoughts and motives are pure, not tainted by my emotions and selfish desires
3.) Right Speech
I speak honestly and kindly, in positive ways, avoiding lies, exaggeration, harsh words
4.) Right Action
My actions do not hurt any other beings that can feel hurt, including animals
5.) Right work
My job does no harm to myself or others
6.) Right Effort
With moderation, I consistently strive to improve.
7.) Right Meditation (Right Mindfulness)
I use disciplines of meditation and focused awareness to contemplate the nature of reality more deeply.
8.) Right Contemplation
I cultivate states of blissful inner peace