I spent the weekend in Oregon teaching and training two remarkable groups of people. The common denominator of these Resilience Champions, both men and women, comes from the fact that each believes they cannot expect the world 'out there' to get any better, unless they, themselves, are willing to do the necessary spadework within their own unknown, interior landscape. For in truth, the two are one. Unless we cultivate our sense of belonging, which respects differences, as well as honors similarities, we will remain in fear, isolation and blind to blessings all around us.
When I asked a number of these folk what's helped them most learn how to be in the world in such a connected way, their response was nearly unanimous. They told me that what has shifted their walk in the world to be more interconnected comes from the fact that someone has given them the gift of modeling what it means to be truly present. Each of them had experienced what happens when we are shown that there is space for us as we are, and room for even the neglected self-orphaned parts to breathe and come forward. Such an experience has assisted them each to 'pay it forward' with others, because their way of seeing has been adjusted and expanded.
Perhaps this is why the ongoing effort of NASA to repair and upgrade the Hubble telescope seems so timely! We would do well to apply the same vigor to the repair and upgrade of all perspectives which limit us from living love. The good news is that there is increasing attention going in this direction from a few 'voices in the wilderness.' Here's one:
"More and more people are beginning to realize that the survival of our planet depends on our sense of belonging -- to all other humans, to dolphins caught in dragnets, to chickens and pigs and calves raised in animal concentration camps, to redwoods and rainforests, to kelp beds in our oceans, and to the ozone layer. More and more people are becoming aware that every act that affirms this belonging is a moral act of worship, the fulfillment of a precept written in every human heart."
Brother David Steindl-Rast
Yes, this is the "precept written in our human hearts!" Allow me to share with you some scenes of inter-being and belonging that may give you a splendid reminder of what can happen when we remember that we are related, after all:
Our Own Sense of Belonging
It could be added that every fear-driven act denying our natural connection to one another, and Mother Nature, creates a disturbing ripple effect through the cosmos. Just take a peek at the effect that issues of torture and its justification, ala Cheney, have upon your well-being? Who feels their blood pressure rising? What happens to your state as you take in the fact that a soldier just killed five of his comrades at a stress clinic in Bagdad? And, who is not surprised?
The human psyche can only take so much disconnection, living in chronic conditions, infused with the steady drip of anxiety and fear before a fellow human being snaps. This, my friends, is what our kids would call "no, duh!" Despite this, only last week we heard the argument that there is an overuse of the diagnostic code for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Oh, really? We have now, on record, 4292 cases of soldier deaths attributable to non-combative causes, amongst them, suicide. This accounts for 20% of the mortality in the past six years of war.
The good news is that we know we can do better, and we know that the beautiful is not far from the ugly, just as the light is not apart from the dark. The sad thing is that our growth and development seems to grow most after wandering around lost in the forest for our own 40 days and nights. Brooklyncitizen put it this way in her response to last week's column, (see Archives):
"...The yin yang of life always seems to toy with us and the image I hold onto is that of walking a beam between both suffering and joy. When we hold both then we can be O.K. I truly believe that. It's never really all or nothing and while going through suffering there is beauty and joy within our reach and vice versa...."
See why I love my readers? They are the best, most generous around! She shares with us a brilliant example, now a documentary called "Rough Aunties", that was shown this week at MOMA. Kim Longinotto, the film maker, depicts, "...the rough aunties are fearless women devoted to protecting and caring for sexually abused, neglected children of Durban. The interaction with the kids is sheer beauty/love, and the reality of these women's lives is heartbreaking."
Ms. Longinotto, Brooklyncitizen, readers like you, and the Huffington Post, including Arianna, are committed to cultivating ways where love can live, and consciousness can grow. We realize that we have choice. We can surrender a become a victim of fear, and let it destroy more life, or, we can stand steady on the ground of living in ways that protect, nourish and raise up and bless new life upon this earth.
Another Way is Living Love
"Aware of the suffering caused by the destruction of life, I am committed to cultivating compassion and learning ways to protect the lives of people, animals, plants and minerals. I am determined not to kill, not to let others kill, and not to support any act of killing in the world, in my thinking, and in my way of life."
Thich Nhat Hanh from For a Future To Be Possible.
The words of another Resilience Champion, Thich Nhat Hanh, are balm to all that aches when we take in the enormity of that which kills connection in the world. Isn't it paradoxical that they come from one who has survived persecution beyond what most can imagine? Or, is it? Perhaps it is the natural end result of one who has the strength of character, and faith in what transcends the monkey mind (ego) to find new life, new beauty and blessings from the compost of appalling conditions.
He is not alone. Listen to the words of one of last week's readers, jeanneyogini:
"...I have always noticed when some crisis is going on with me or a loved one, it forces me to be on a more tender level of my being, and from there I see the world differently, with more compassion and truth. Somehow perceiving the bigger picture of a crisis, is Mother Nature's way of purifying and correcting helps me to be patient and trusting that it will all work out..."
So, for you, Jeanney, and all my marvelous Huffington Post readers, let me acknowledge the gifts you bring to our world with the following video. Its subject is a hero by the name of Clay Dyer. Clay came into our world with unbelievable challenges. With courage and a sense of connection to something greater than his obstacles, he prevails. But, there are other Resilience Champions living love in this story! Please note the amazing way his mother, father and brother live out love in the way they've allowed their hearts to be touched by Clay's Spirit and tenacity. They are tenderly moved, and we are moved by the connection, by the sense of possibility for us all.
"The Most Inspirational Fisherman Ever"
I welcome your comments, your video clips, resources, and suggestions, and will get back to you as soon as possible. Do me a favor: I'd love to hear/see your examples of Resilience Champions you know, or have heard of so that we might share these, and find a deeper connection and sense of belonging with one another, and all creatures, large and small. See you next Wednesday!
Dr. Cara Barker is the author of World Weary Woman: Her Wound and Transformation, Grieving the Loss of a Child, and other works. Jungian Analyst, author and artist, Barker will next be featured at in Longbeach at Super Seminar II throughout May 29, 30, 31.