"The only devils in the world are those running around in our hearts.” Gandhi
Tension exists inside each of our bodies, just as it manifests externally between different groups of people. When we experience tension inside, it’s often a sign that something wants to move through us. This provocation can help us realize that the dynamism of life is manifesting in physical form through our bones, organs, and flesh.
The moving vibrancy can be experienced in a preferable emotional state, such as joy or love. Operating from these places, we may want to jump, sing, create, or hug our friends. However, when it’s less welcomed by our system, sometimes we label it anger or anxiety. In the more uncomfortable states, responding to the experience in this way is often rooted in some sort of fear of unfamiliar territory or threat to our survival.
Operating from these less-welcomed states of restlessness, it can drive us to act out compulsively. Searching for ways to alleviate the feelings, we begin to blame others.
In our search for meaning,certainty, and validation, we often make other people and/or groups the culprits of our own fear. We may blame the president, religious groups, or our partners and friends for the way we feel inside.
When we don’t understand that we feel scared or uncomfortable, we follow our fear into destructive, and often hypocritical territory. This can manifest into feeling hatred towards the very people we are condemning for being hateful themselves.
Hypocrisy is elusive and often disguised in forms of rigid moral stances. Although, ultimately, acting through hypocrisy maintains, and can even amplify, the issue itself.
However, when we are able to understand where these tensions are triggered and sourced within us, we can channel the dynamism with our volition into constructive and compassionate action in the name of a chosen higher value system.
Consider the landscape of today’s tension. Do we choose to blame and condemn organized hate groups like the KKK or Islamic extremists? Or do we bring inquiry and curiosity to understand what’s driving their perspectives? If we choose to blame, we perpetuate the issue. If we choose to seek understanding, to question, to learn, then we may operating from curiosity, empathy, or perhaps even love. From these places, we then are ultimately encouraging the behavior we say that we seek to experience in the projected humans we are blaming. We do this by being an expression of that loving behavior ourselves.
In regard to escalating racial tensions in the USA, musician Jon Foreman recently articulated,
Once we begin to empathize with the roots of the emotional states, we can more easily access the ability to operate from compassion and love. Espcially because we realize these fearful states are universal and we all experience them. It’s from this place that change more often results in byproducts like peace and friendship throughout society.
On April 4th, 1968, following Martin Luther King Jr’s death, John F Kennedy’s spoke:
Daryl Davis is a musician and advocate for social change through understanding and friendship. He suggests to, “find someone who disagrees and invite them to your table.” And Daryl does just that. While sitting at the table with Daryl, a former KKK member, Scott Shepherd, he says to him,
Let’s face our fears and make peace with our inner devils, rather than be led by anger into the hypocrisy of violence compulsivity.
After all, to bring peace, we must be peace.