Like many people around the world, I have been distressed by the news in Australia and all around the world recently. I was so upset and frustrated because I didn’t know what I can do to help beyond sending donations or signing petitions. Sometimes it can all feel too much, after one problem we learn of more and we can fall into a state of feeling powerless.
An inner voice has become my compass. The voice that keeps telling me:
“The world really needs your love, not your anger or your fear.”
This has changed how I am approaching things now, because I realised sitting at home feeling negative is not helping anything, if anything it probably contributes to the problems because negativity leads me to make cynical decisions.
I do believe that things such as prayer and sending loving thoughts really does help (it certainly does no harm whatever you believe), but we still need to be grounded in action.
I believe that activism and standing up for what you believe in is important in this world and to say the world needs our love does not suggest that we should be passive. What it does suggest is that we need to change our attitudes in how we approach things. Protest, but protest out of love for your cause. Take action, not because you’re angry, but because you care deeply and want to make a difference. To fight the negativity in the world with the same energy doesn’t transform anything in the long term, it’s still just negative stuff, just different negative stuff. To use a popular saying: “it’s the same sh*t, different shovel”.
But how can we create positive change in the world when it is so full of negativity?
To take inspiration from physics:
Of course we can’t stop anger and frustration from arising, our emotions are signals giving us valuable information that we should take note of, they tell us what we care about, but they are not intended for us to cling onto. Emotions, like everything in this world, comprise of energy. You cannot, neither should you try to, stop yourself from feeling emotions, but you have the power to choose to put them to good use. So it is far more powerful to take those emotions and transform them into positive action.
I hear a lot of people complain about feeling powerless as individuals, but that is a personal choice, it seriously is. No one has ever been required or expected to single-handedly change the whole world, I dare say it’s somewhat arrogant to believe this is possible or to use it as an excuse not to do anything at all. Even our leaders cannot do anything single-handedly. They need votes, they need support, it’s your choice whether you give it to them. Just because an election result doesn’t reflect what you voted doesn’t mean it didn’t make a difference. Everything makes a difference, you helped reflect the multi-dimensioned voice of the people. You sing your part in the choir, a beautiful song which cannot be the same without you, but you are not the whole sound. You will never be the whole sound. Your voice has an impact far beyond a simple election result.
We also need to stop being de-motivated by how we (often incorrectly) judge the outcome. Don’t focus on the outcome, it happens when it is ready to happen and most of the time we cannot see it coming or predict it any more than we can predict the weather. A flower is too busy just being a flower, not watching and waiting for what all the other flowers around the world are doing in springtime. The flower in your garden is not waiting for a petition in favour of spring time to get enough signatures, or for enough likes on facebook or for the news to publish that its officially spring. It is true to itself and blossoms because that is its purpose. And spring is glorious, because every single flower was simply true to itself.
Viktor Frankl was a psychiatrist and during WW2 spent many years in Nazi concentration camps. He lost his whole family and witnessed such horror, every day was a fight to survive. He of all people had good reason to feel angry and despair about the world, but he came away with such a beautiful view of life. After the war he returned to being a psychiatrist, created a whole new psychological theory that is still used today and wrote a bestselling memoir “Man’s Search for Meaning” to explain what he learnt.
“Everything can be taken away from a man but one thing; the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
Similar sentiments have been echoed by others who have experienced imprisonment and other terrible suffering in their lives. That in short, even if you are physically imprisoned, no one can tell you what to think or how to act. Only you can do that. That freedom is only ever yours.
If we want to see a brighter world, then our responsibility is to create transformation in our own hearts and in our own actions. Harness the energy of what you feel, turn it into something you can love and feel good about. That’s the kind of vibe that will make this world a better place.
We are really all like candles lighting the way for each other. The more of us there are shining together, the brighter we can light up the world.
So how does that translate at a local level in your life, in your home? It’s every decision you make. To make every decision consciously with the values so important to you at the forefront of your mind. It’s taking self-responsibility.
If it’s the environment you care about, then find out all the ways to be eco-friendly and sustainable, the information is readily available. Or organise to plant trees with a bunch of friends. If it’s to see more kindness in this world, start doing good things for others yourself. If it’s animals you care about, adopt an animal from a rescue home and give it the love it never had, or feed your local wildlife, plant things that are good for them. If you don’t like the negative aspects of social media, then start using it as a power for good. It’s all about transformation of energy. And whatever you care about, you can be sure someone else does as well, so a little searching on facebook or google will lead you to resources with ideas and tips. If no one is doing anything about what you care about, why not start that revolution yourself? Be a candle for others.
Just always remember the simple sentiment, that no matter what you are doing, do it out of love, not anger.
So one last thing. No matter what you do and how you transform yourself and your life, you will always continue to meet others who are angry. Or negative. Or unkind, or whatever. Just let them be. It’s not your job to change them or how they feel. This includes our leaders. I’m sure you know that we never want to change ourselves just because someone else tells us to. Your purpose is to simply be true to yourself and your values. So if you feel that your leaders are letting you down, don’t focus on who they are but what they do (or don’t do). Don’t focus on their negativity, focus on how you can find better leadership.
The world needs our love, not our anger or our fear.
So a few days ago, I was feeling really upset about the state of the world and I decided to take the feelings of concern and distress about the environment and anger at the politicians who don’t care and I transformed these feelings into my love of nature and desire to protect it. I found some garbage bags and collected 3 large bags of rubbish that had been illegally dumped near my home. The property belongs to someone else and I had seen a lady trying to clear it on her own, I didn’t even tell her I did it, I just wanted to help a neighbour and my own community. That’s a powerful feeling.
It’s going to take lots of changes in behaviour to help transform our local communities and the greater world, but it starts with you taking your love for the world and putting it into action.