WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED?
HOW HAVE WE GROWN?
HOW HAVE WE HEALED?
It’s almost a dozen years since the terror attacks of 9/11. And here we are in a painfully similar moment and stance as we were that day and then developing after that.
What have we learned? Are we still acting in the outer world without making any real changes in our inner world? Do we respond with kindness and compassion in tragedies like tornadoes, floods, the Boston Marathon bombing, and the Sandy Hook shooting, but fail to respond with kindness in our own back yards and at home? Do we respond with kindness and compassion in the aftermath of disasters, but find ourselves unable to sustain it? And in the absence of the sustaining, return to our prejudices and hatreds and fears of people who are different from us – people whose skin is different, whose religion is different, whose way of being is different? Do we take action against them? Speak out against them? Judge them aloud or silently? Are we aware we are judging them, or do we just believe we are saying, thinking, or feeling the truth about them? Or more subtle still, do we believe we are continuing to be kind and compassionate and yet have currents of thoughts and feelings deep within us – beneath our awareness – that are the opposite of that, or shades of cruelty and unfeeling?
Do we respond with kindness and compassion in the world outside our home, but at home act – however consciously or unconsciously – with cruelty, mean spiritedness, and closed heartedness? Do we demean our partners? Ridicule them? Shame them? Do we judge them? Do we yell at them? Do we strike out at them – mentally, emotionally, or physically? Are we so unconscious that we believe we are justified? Do we treat our children the same way – however blatantly or subtly – and again believe we are justified? Have the right?
Do we have any idea at all when we are being triggered? When our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are evoked by something in the current day … but our reactions are not current day. They are the reactions we had and developed long, long ago in childhood when we were hurt, wounded, or even traumatized.
Do we realize when that happens – when we are triggered – it is the child still alive deep within us that is reacting with the power of the body, the physical strength, the mind, the personality of an adult? Do we have any real understanding of what this means? Do we really comprehend that in crucial moments we are making decisions and acting on the thoughts, feelings, and early decisions of a child — not those of the adult we believe we are? That the child still alive within us is driving the show…in the most critical times in our life?
If you don’t realize this…
If you don’t take this seriously…
If you don’t find a way to understand this…
If you don’t explore this for yourself, within yourself, in your own life…
you will not only continue to feed what is getting repeated in your personal outer world…
you will also continue to re-create and re-enact it instead of resolving it.
And in addition…
You will also continue to feed what is getting repeated in our communal outer world…
You will also continue to be part of the problem rather than part of the solution in our outer world.
To get a clearer sense of what I’m describing … read on. The example will be blatant to help make the impact more easily understandable. But the same dynamics apply however blatant or subtle.
Imagine you are a child. You live in a family with a mother and father and a couple siblings. Your mother yells at you and even hits you from your earliest years. Your father demeans you, ridicules you, and leaves you on your own to figure things out for yourself. You feel hurt, angry, and scared … but don’t know what to do to protect yourself. You bury your feelings. You disconnect your own awareness from the painful feelings. You start to find ways to react that you hope will keep you safe from more hurt and pain. Taking care of Mom and Dad. Trying to please them no matter what. Repressing your emotional self, becoming really “logical,” and using your mind to defend yourself. One of your siblings cries in response to your parents’ painful treatment. One of them becomes tough and angry and lashes out. You become very logical and have contempt for both of them for being unable to “control themselves.”
You grow up and “fall in love.” You go from partner to partner, then marriage to marriage … each time ending up with a partner who has some combination of the traits of your mother, father, and siblings. If your partner cries in response to being hurt, you react with contempt … as a way to defend yourself against your own hurt – not just your here and now hurt with your partner but also your deeply buried hurts in childhood. If your partner acts tough and angry and lashes out, you come back with contempt and logic. If your partner yells at or hits you … you use your logical mind to try to calm your partner down … or perhaps some of your deeply buried anger comes flying out, out of control, in spite of your efforts to keep it buried. But most of the anger that explodes is the anger from Mommy’s hitting you and Daddy’s demeaning you many years past … deeply buried and hidden anger that has been triggered by your partner’s hitting you.
When this happens, instead of reacting and firing your anger on your partner, you need to take this clue for healing and go find someone to help you do the therapy to heal this. Without the therapy to truly heal this – at its roots – you will continue to find partners like this … and have no idea why you are recreating the same thing over and over and over again. Without real depth therapy, you may stay with your partner and co-create the same scenario many times over. Or you may leave your current partner and find another, only to be shocked when you discover you’ve picked yet one more partner like Mom.
Again, if you do not resolve the pain at its source long ago, you will re-create it again and again in your life ahead.
If this is true for individuals, then it is also true for communities, countries, our world. That is why we keep coming back to the same places again and again.
That’s why, for example, we still have domestic violence, and it is normalized by many in the public and certainly by parts of the law. We can’t end domestic violence by only doing things on the outside; we have to do the inner healing work. That’s why we still have rape, and so much of it. We can’t legislate rape away. We can only create consequences for it. To end rape we have to do the inner healing work. That’s why we can’t end the inequities and tragedies in relation to money only on the outside, only with outer actions. We have to do the inner healing work. And that’s why we can’t end war only in the outer world. We also can’t end it only with our longing.
Ironically, John Kerry said something similar but unfortunately stopped there.
“We know that after a decade of conflict, the American people are tired of war – believe me, I am too. But fatigue does not absolve us of our responsibility. Just longing for peace does not necessarily bring it about.”
–Secretary of State John Kerry, calling for action against Syria
He is accurate. We can’t end war simply by longing for it. John Kerry would have us take action. And sometimes, in some circumstances, we do need to take action. But the truth is: We can’t end war simply by taking action. Simply by longing for it. We have to do the inner healing work to back up the longing, to make fulfilling the peace we long for truly possible – from the inside out.
We can’t end war simply by letting our longing lead us to praying for it. We can’t end war simply by pretending to ourselves (and others) we are at peace within. We can’t end war simply by once again pushing our own inner conflicts and wars back down into the underground, burying them once again. In order to truly end war … we absolutely must do the inner healing work. The inner work to discover and explore the conflicts and wars within us and to resolve them within … on the deepest levels of our being.
Otherwise we will find ourselves individually and communally creating the same circumstances over and over and over and over again … till at long last, after experiencing the painful consequences time after time, we will have no choice but to do the inner healing work.
© Judith Barr, 2013
WHAT YOU CAN DO
TO HELP MAKE YOUR AND OUR WORLD SAFE …
FROM THE INSIDE OUT
It has been 12 years since the tragedy of September 11, 2001… and we all, individually and communally, need to ask ourselves: what indeed have we learned?
You can greatly help heal all arenas of our world – from the national and world stage, down to your own individual life – by doing the inner exploration and healing we each need to do as we go about our day. Start by asking yourself:
What have I buried?
What have I become unconscious of?
What triggers me? And can I trace back the feelings I have when I’m triggered to some specific times in my early life?
What have I created over and over again in my life and in the lives of those around me?
What have I learned? How have I grown? How have I healed?
I invite you to share with me the fruits of your exploration at this crucial time in our lives and in our world.
Imagine what our lives would be like, if we all did this inner exploration! Imagine what our communities … our country … our world would be like!