We live in a world where opposites co-exist: light and dark, yin and yang, good and bad, up and down. According to Taoism principles, opposites in nature exist to balance all things. Rain cools. Heat dries.
Paradoxically, it could be argued that these opposites actually create the whole. It’s the principle of oneness which argues: What is in the one is in the whole. Or, so above so below.
I share this because today I am thinking about war and peace, good and bad, light and dark, and how these energies reside within each of us. And how when these energies are activated in mass force, they spill out into the collective consciousness. Sometimes for good. Sometimes for evil.
I am thinking about this as America commemorates Holocaust Remembrance Week from April 27 to May 4. I am not Jewish. But I am a human being who feels remorse for the systematic slaying of millions of innocents during the Holocaust and the collective wound I think we all share as a result. Even if we’re not conscious of it.
What is in the one, is in the whole. And the wounds, even when not inflicted by us, are inflicted upon all of us. They leave an indelible mark on our psyches, make us a little harder, a little less trusting, a little less tolerant.
We might not even be aware of this truth.
All of this hangs out in the ethers as a reminder of what we’re capable of as humans. And while it may appear invisible, out there in the ethers, this darkness often manifests into form in the visible world, even in our personal worlds.
Think about it.
And let’s ask ourselves: Where are we at war with ourselves? What wounds do we carry from childhood into new relationships or into everyday life that keep us victims to the past, or worse, turn us into perpetrators who do violence to ourselves? Where do we become entitled, righteous and angry in our political or religious beliefs and sync up with “like-minded” people to rage against those who differ from us?
Fear is the enemy. And it’s opposite–love–is the healing balm.
Viktor Frankl, a noted psychiatrist, chronicled his time as a prisoner in the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II and wrote about it in the book, Man’s Search for Meaning. In the midst of chaos, in the midst of unspeakable crimes, in the midst of inhumanity, he chose to focus on love. He knew the one thing that could balance evil was goodness, the one thing that could vanquish the dark was light, and the one thing that could drive away fear was love.
So, today, I am choosing love, while still shining the light on what was a dark period in history. There’s plenty more to look at–past and present. Like slavery. Or the Rwandan genocide. This year is the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide where 800,000 people were murdered within 100 days while most nations closed their eyes and wrung their hands in disbelief. Right now, Syrian forces ( government or rebel, which ever side you believe) are using chemical weapons on their own people.
There is a price we all pay for war, war of any kind. It matters not if it is in our backyard or across distant continents. Because what happens out there will happens within us, if we are not aware.
The pain and displacement of war invade us all, snaking through invisible boundaries to infect our spirits and psyches.
Now one might argue that what is within us, is what is projected outward to manifest distrust, betrayal, war. But I believe it works both ways. The darkness comes to us and it comes from within us.
So above so below.
So choose love as much as possible. Practice peace. Pray. Work on your inner world, in the hopes that somehow, someday, we might affect our outer world.
If what is in the one is in the whole or the all, then let it be love.
“Peace in the city,
Peace in my home,
Peace in my heart,
Peace everywhere.” –Irish prayer
If you’re interested in more thoughts on integrity, compassion and grace, particularly at midlife, read my book Tao Flashes.
Please note that some links in this post may be affiliate links.