The events of this past Friday have been swirling around in my consciousness for several days now. The time had come for me put some of my thoughts into writing.
First and foremost to the parents, families, and the town of Newtown, my most profound prayers and positive energy for the days, weeks, months, and years ahead.
I have engaged in some interesting discussion with friends about Friday’s shooting in Connecticut. I started out being just angry at Adam Lanza for his actions. Then that anger turned to a search for answers…why. I’ve had some interesting discussion with friends about evil and the nature of evil. We arrived at some disagreement about the source of that evil and its causes and that is a valid discussion to have.
Today I began to tune in to collective self-talk that is resonating across minds, hearts, air waves, and the Internet today.
We are, at the end of the day, the self-talk and the stories we tell ourselves. Whether we are reacting to events in the world or pursuing our own personal goals, the “affirmations” we keep repeating about how things are becomes how things are.
None of us is perfect on that score. Even the most empowered thinkers among us allow disempowering and destructive thoughts into their consciousness. That is no reason not to try.
After an event that shakes us like this one, it is important to pay special attention to the self-talk and outward talk we are engaging in. Because as surely as seeds are planted in the Spring and harvested in the Fall, the thought seeds we are planting in our lives right now as the result of this event will be harvested in our individual and collective lives.
What are we saying? Well, one “affirmation” I’ve heard over and over is “Evil exists in the world. It always has and it always will.” There is no disputing that fact right now. However, is that the mental seed we want to plant today and harvest tomorrow? The first part of that affirmation is a fact. It’s the second part that projects that continued reality into our future that is bothersome. Is that the best belief we want to hold in our consciousness about what can be? What if instead we said, “Evil exists in the world, but it does not have to exist to the extent it does now.” Wouldn’t that be a step forward? Do we want to change or are we just trying to score points for being the “most realistic”?
I’ve heard similar affirmations before about war – “There have always been wars and there always will be.” I’ve heard it about war in the middle east – “Those people have hated each other for thousands of years. Peace is never possible there.”
I must say this all seems rather defeatist to me. I’m not saying we can rid the world of evil or war tomorrow. I’m saying that to continue to plant such thoughts in our heads absolutely moves these possibilities into realm of impossibility. You hear this in discussions of gender, race, religion. “Those people are always…(something negative).”
Think about how often we – you – do this in your life. What chance for improvement are you projecting into tomorrow by ruling out the possibility that things can get better?
I challenge you, I challenge me, I challenge us not to fall into the trap of this kind of self-talk, even in the face of events like Newtown.
Those 20 young children who lost their lives Friday were a future. They were a possibility – a possibility to move beyond tired old paradigms and habitual ways of thinking. Let us honor them by doing our best not to cave into the gravity of the status quo and plant the mental seeds that invariably lead us in circles to nowhere. Instead, let us conceive new possibilities and a humanity with higher aspirations than “what has always been”.
“Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not.”
– George Bernard Shaw
I wonder…for the children of Newtown and for ourselves…which we will choose to be?