Another Way Forward
After the events of this past week…
What do you say?
What can you say?
The images and scenes from earlier this week are… disturbing, shocking, jarring, preposterous, ludicrous, unsettling, unprecedented, confusing, bewildering, befuddling, awful, sad, terrible, terrifying, maddening, hurtful, distasteful, disgraceful, shameful, and something I think we can all agree on (I hope), wrong.
We all agree (I think?) that what took place in our nation’s capital should have never happened. It never should have even been allowed to happen. It never should have been an inkling, of an idea, of a possibility, of an occurrence, that could take place. And yet it did. It happened.
So, what now? We move on, right? We move past, we heal, we forgive, we forget, we shake hands, we clean up, we sweep up, we transition, and on to the next thing, right? We’ve learned this time, right? We’re better? We realize our mistakes and we’ll do better next time, right?
But this time… it feels different. Something feels different inside all of us.
It feels like… pain. Deep, emotional, scaring, damaging, stirring, open, jagged, festering, puss-filled and dirty. It feels like a wound so gnarled and dark and deep, it’s impossible to see how we will ever treat it, heal and recover.
But we’ve promised to do that for each other, right? Our leaders (most of them) came together the night of the incident and said, “what happened here was wrong”, “we were wrong”, and “it’s not going to happen again, because our democracy is more important than the events that took place”, right?
And yet, despite all the epithets of wrong-doing and solace, and oaths to do better, this isn’t the final straw, is it? (How can this not be the final straw to break the camel’s back?!?) Haven’t we hurt enough? Haven’t we suffered enough? Haven’t we all felt and witnessed and seen and heard enough pain and suffering in all our lives to last for the next millennium? Hasn’t there been enough bloodshed and tears? Can’t we put down our weapons and arms and armaments to surrender our swords and stand shoulder to shoulder once again as brothers and sisters? You know, because we’ve done that before, right? Just like we did after 911, right? You remember that, don’t you? All of us uniting together in solace and grief over the destruction of our country by one common enemy. And yet, something’s different now, isn’t it?
The evil enemy isn’t “out there” anymore. The enemy is here. It’s laying with us, beside us, in us, and all around us. The enemy is US.
You can feel it, can’t you? It’s in us. It’s in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears, in our fears – especially in our fears. It’s in our words, our actions, or re-actions, our listening, our watching, our waiting, our every move and thought and message. In our dreams, in our expectations, in our desires, and in our manifestations. It’s the shadow we try to ignore, who’s gingerly traipsing behind us, lurking in every corner, down every staircase, in every nook and cranny.
WE are responsible for this. WE created this. This is what we tolerated, and accepted, and rubber-stamped. Our united participation led to a conclusion that was inevitable. We have no one to blame but ourselves, each and every one of us. We propagated this hate. We allowed this disenfranchisement. We let it all go, we allowed it all to unfold. We were afraid to speak up. We were afraid to be different, to stand out and go against the grain. We watched and witnessed as our friends, our families, neighbors and colleagues tore each other apart with words and images, gifs, memes, TikToks and Snapchats. We spat vile and vitriol all over our social media pages and at family reunions and holiday meals. And we allowed the media to stoke our flames, to add lighter fluid and matches to our burning embers. And the fires of hate and intolerance raged! We allowed conspiracy theorists, money-making billionaires, politicians and religious leaders to tell us how we thought and felt – and then we re-posted and shared and liked and commented, and they made more money off us, and the cycle continued over and over and over again.
We elected politicians – on both sides – who betrayed our trust and our resolute loyalty. They capitalized on our fears and our disenfranchisement with each other, pitting each of us against one other so that we could battle over who was right and who was wrong on various thoughts, beliefs and ideals, so that they could win more, succeed more, gain more power, gain more fame, gain more glory for the ages. And we paid and funded them all millions of dollars to do this to us, and then we carried banners and rally signs and flags throughout the nation, parading to the spectacle of “being a member of their group” because then that means, “I belong”, “I’m someone”, and “I’m wanted”. “I’m not the outcast, the misfit, the renegade, the nomad, the loner, the ingrate, the “whatever – fill in the blank for yourself here - that everyone thinks I am.”
So, now we’ve found ourselves here, at this moment. At this exact place and time, to bear witness to what we’ve done to ourselves and to each other.
Do we feel remorse? Do we feel regret? I thought perhaps we might (maybe for a moment). I thought perhaps we were turning the corner, turning the page, making a new choice, writing a new chapter. And I was willing to let it all go, to sweep it under the rug, like I’ve always done in the past.
But then, only a day after the despicable events that took place at the capital, I was brought to my knees in anguish. As I write this, I’m crestfallen, heartbroken and taken aback but the audacity of a few (on both sides) who continue to spread pain, who continue to spread hurt, who continue to choose sides, who continue to point fingers, who continue to say “us” vs. “them”, and so on and so on and so on.
Have we learned nothing in all of this? Have we not learned anything from the thousands of lives lost due to covid? Have we not learned anything during the Cold War or World War I or WWII? Have our parents and grand-parents and their parents not suffered enough for all of us to bear? Have the children in all the schools dying at the hands of gunfire year after year not shed enough blood? Has our military, police force, first responders, doctors, nurses and firefighters not carried enough of our burdens, our sicknesses and our wars? Haven’t the Jews and the people of color and the LGBTQ+ community sacrificed enough for everyone? Haven’t we all suffered enough pain and hardship to want to stop it by now?
Have we not learned that this is exactly what the enemy wants of us? It wants hate to grow. It wants you to bully and poke and prod and stick each other until you bleed again and again and again. It wants our misery, our destruction, our collapse, our failure. And we’re helping it along! Propagating it with our actions! We’re choosing to promulgate and drive the momentum for this beast that we carry on our backs day after day. We’re actively involved and willing participants.
But I can’t do it anymore.
I’m truly beaten this time.
I am sickened to my core at the way we’ve treated each other. IT HAS TO STOP! THIS HAS GOT TO STOP!
Please please please dear Lord, God in Heaven, Divine Universe, all that we are and all that we have – all that we believe in - make it stop.
We can’t go on like this.
We won’t go on like this.
We have to make another choice … or we’re done for. It’ll all be over, game over.
There has to be another way. We have got to make a conscious choice to live and breathe and communicate with each other another way.
We have to remember what we are, at our core. We have to remember that we’re here together, with each other. We’re not alone in all this! We are connected, whether we like it or not – that’s what covid is here to teach us! No man, woman, child or sentient being is here as an island unto themselves.
We’re not brought into this world and dumped into the middle of a forest in the middle of nowhere to fend for ourselves against the wolves to see how we can survive. We’re designed to co-exist with each other. We’re designed to be helpful and caring and compassionate to one another. We’re literally brought into this world as part of a family so that we can be taken care of, nurtured and loved. Have we all just forgotten our first life lesson??? WE NEED EACH OTHER TO SURVIVE.
We simply won’t make it much longer if we don’t realize that.
So, we have to start by making a new choice. A new way forward, a new path, a new direction.
We have to choose kindness, compassion and love for ourselves and one another.
THERE IS NO OTHER WAY.
We are better than this. I know in my heart and in every fiber of my being that we are the essence of something better, something brighter and more prosperous. This is not the end of the story. We have more work to do.
So, with all of this in mind and weighing heavily upon my heart, I can only choose to make a vow and a pledge for myself to this new way forward.
As a start, I will personally commit to resolutions laid out by the Charter for Compassion:
Commit to restore compassion to the center of morality and social engagement and reject any practice that breeds violence, hatred, or disdain.
Commit to develop our compassion in ever-widening circles, transcending our individual and collective self-centeredness to create a society characterized by care and concern for all and a devotion to the common good.
Commit to teach, train, and equip future generations.
Commit to collaborate locally, nationally and globally to create a shared vision of a compassionate society, to work within our spheres of influence to build compassionate systems and cultures, to openly share information and resources, to highlight best practices, and to celebrate progress.
And the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Foundation, to follow a simple formula: courage + gratitude + forgiveness + compassion in action = Choosing Love.
In addition to these principles I’m also adding an oath that I will personally commit to, as it aligns with my values and beliefs. Lord knows I haven’t been a perfect saint in all this and I’ve made mistakes along the way, but I recognize that, and I’m committing myself to making more conscious loving, compassionate choices moving forward. You’re welcome to use this or create your own version that resonates with your heart’s desires and intention.
I pledge allegiance to empathy, compassion, kindness, forgiveness and gratitude for all.
I choose to honor and protect myself and all others from harsh words, actions and undue harm.
I promise to uphold the values of humility, courage, truth and justice for ALL people.
I will be impeccable with my words - no longer engaging in judgement, harsh criticism and gossip.
I vow to do my best each and every day to make this world and the lives of those around me a little brighter and a little better, just because of my having been here.
I humbly recognize my faults and the faults of others, forgiving each of us – when we know better we do better.
I’m sure this pledge will likely evolve and grow, change and adapt over the years to come. I’m willing to stay open and optimistic for whatever our future may hold for each and every one of us, if we commit to making conscious, loving choices moving forward.
Finally to close, this path forward can no longer bear witness to discrimination or hate speech of any kind. That behavior is no longer a part of the world I’m choosing to create for myself or for others, so in case I choose to bid our friendship adieu for any reason, I wish you a fond farewell and best of luck on your individual personal journey. I hope you find peace and love within your heart, as this is the birthright for all of us.
Blessings and love, namaste <3