“In the future, humanity will overemphasize the intellectual element of the mind. Instead of recognizing the wholeness of life, people will perceive life as having a worldly aspect and a spiritual aspect that are separate and unrelated to each other. People will also loose themselves in isolated fragments of conceptual information and become victims rather than masters of their knowledge…Intuition knows the whole, intellect knows only fragments.”
– Lao Tzu
Yesterday on The New Yorker Radio Hour, Sabine Bode, a journalist, talked about interviewing elderly Germans, who were born at the end or after WWII. She wanted to see, if like her, they were traumatized by wondering to what extent their parents had gone to as Nazis. Many of the people she talked to had lived either in denial or were as wood. Sabine remarked that many people had little or no sympathy for the children of Nazis. As she talked, her humanity flowed out through the radio and it endeared me to her.
This made me consider the reality behind all the groups that act reprehensively. For every terrorist, there are wives, children, parents, brothers, sisters, relatives and friends associated or attached to them. Many may not share their ideologies or beliefs but are hijacked into silence or coerced into action out of fear. Surely some stand up or are die in resistance but many are swept up.
Last night, Julia and I continued to listen to Brene Brown’s book, Rising Strong. Brene interviewed hundreds of individuals to see if they thought that on the whole, people were doing the best they could with what they had to work with. She found that if people were compassionate they agreed that people were doing the best they could with what they had to work with. This included murderers and terrorists. Of course having compassion doesn’t mean that we condone their behavior. We can understand someone’s actions and know that the best thing is to make sure they don’t continue to cause harm.
Brene suggests “Living Big”, using Boundaries, Integrity and Generosity. Setting boundaries helps us define clearly and honestly which behaviors are ok and which aren’t. Integrity allows us to not just talk about our values but to go beyond what is easy to consider the whole picture and generosity allows us to see humanity not in black and white according to our current blanket judgments but with kindness and discernment.
There is a musical group called My Favorite Enemy comprised of Israeili, Palestinian, Jordanian, American and Norwegian famous recording artists and songwriters. They sing, “Too many stones have been thrown.”
What is flowing through us is so much grander than the defined concept we have of ourselves and one another. Surely things are always more complicated than we can understand but as we expand our hearts we can intuit what it is to be whole and help to untie these knots.
May our humanity allow us to flow beyond borders and definitions to heal those who have been swept up, including ourselves.