Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
The repeated violent events of recent weeks have been heartbreaking, frightening, and confusing. It’s easy to become overwhelmed trying to process and understand what’s happening in the world. We want to do something that can help, but wonder what we could possibly to do help make real change.
If you believe, or are willing to consider, that we are all connected and creating our reality, then there are things you can do right now in your own inner world to make a difference. Here’s one way:
Make a commitment, to the best of your ability, to disengage yourself from all forms of attack.
You attack every day. I attack every day. We do it rarely in our actions, sometimes in our speech, and regularly in our thoughts.
Any blameful statement or thought about yourself or another person is a form of attack.
Any time you feel righteous in judging or punishing yourself or someone else because they did wrong, that is a form of attack.
The shooters all felt righteous or justified in their actions. We know they were not thinking correctly. We know they were lost when they made those choices. This is clear to us.
But some things are not as clear to us. Though we are not murderers or bombers, we may still hold violent beliefs. We may believe in punishment, retaliation, and revenge on people who wrong us. We may believe that it’s normal and even healthy to counter attack someone who has attacked us. In our culture, these types of beliefs are status quo, politically and socially. In many circles, this way of thinking is accepted as normal.
This is where we have a blind spot.
Can Violence Create Peace?
In response to our grief and sadness over the violence we’ve seen and felt, we may talk and gather to promote peace. If at the same time we harbor hateful, judgmental, or vengeful thoughts about the gunmen, the police, or anyone involved, we are perpetuating the very energy we desire to stop.
If it’s okay to attack certain people at certain times but not okay to attack other people, then which people get attacked and when is a subjective decision that’s rationalized through whatever belief system we’re operating under at the moment. This approach relies on vilifying the “other” to justify overtaking and dominating the things that scare or threaten us. This may seem to work to control conflict in the short term, but over time the energy of violence continues to build.
Today we find ourselves in a violent and volatile situation wondering how we got here.
Until we can reconsider counterattack as a go-to response to feeling vulnerable, how can peace begin to grow around us?
We Are Creators
We are all individuals contributing to the collective tone and mood of our country and world—as creators. Our daily thoughts and words have physical power. Can we find the courage to look within ourselves for the hidden places where we may be perpetuating the very things we fear?
Martin Luther King, Jr. expressed this so eloquently when he spoke about how darkness cannot drive out darkness. Hate + hate = only more hate. If we want less hate and violence in the world (and if you are still reading, I believe you do) we need not wait for law enforcement or government to bring it to us. We can choose to reduce the hate that comes out of us as individuals.
Notice your reaction as you read the next sentences.
I am never justified in attacking anyone or anything. When I feel the desire to attack as a path toward safety or justice, I am not seeing things clearly.
The No-Attack Diet
I invite you to participate in this exercise as a humble but powerful gesture to honor the people who have been attacked, hurt, or killed in the past weeks and months.
We can reduce hate and judgment in the world by reducing it in ourselves. Not only do we have the power to do something, we are the only ones who have power over what we create as individuals. Don’t minimize your individual thoughts and words as insignificant— they contain the power of creation. This matters—and if you make a change, it will make a difference.
It is easy enough to be friendly to one’s friends. But to befriend the one
who regards himself as your enemy is the quintessence of true religion.
The other is mere business.