There's no room for hatred if we want a world of peace

BlogHer Original Post

I want to write something light and airy, something that will make you all howl with laughter. I want to write something frothy and giggly. But it just isn't in me. I watch the election news, listen to the endless posturing and positioning, and feel so man-handled by the spin doctors that I ought to file molestation charges. So today's column is about how to find joy in the midst of mayhem -- how to find solace in a world jam packed with tragedy.

I know that although it is hard to do that, it is needful -- that the fires of action are not fueled by despair, they are fueled by hope. Lives that mire down in hatred and sorrow do not continue with abundance.

So I figure I get two choices (at least) -- one is to look at the darkness in the world and fix my gaze there. I do not have the stamina to do that over time. I can see what is unjust -- I can and do feel anger and outrage -- but if that is where I stop, I don't think I can be very helpful. To anyone. Including myself.

I have been re-reading some Thomas Merton lately -

"I have learned that an age in which politicians talk about peace is an age in which everybody expects war: the great men of the earth would not talk of peace so much if they did not secretly believe it possible, with one more war, to annihilate their enemies forever. Always, "after just one more war" it will dawn, the new era of love: but first everybody who is hated must be eliminated. For hate, you see, is the mother of their kind of love.

Unfortunately the love that is to be born out of hate will never be born. Hatred is sterile; it breeds nothing but the image of its own empty fury, its own nothingness. Love cannot come of emptiness. It is full of reality. Hatred destroys the real being of man in fighting the fiction which it calls "the enemy." For man is concrete and alive, but "the enemy" is a subjective abstraction. A society that kills real men in order to deliver itself from the phantasm of a paranoid delusion is already possessed by the demon of destructiveness because it has made itself incapable of love. It refuses, a priori, to love. It is dedicated not to concrete relations of man with man, but only to abstractions about politics, economics, psychology, and even, sometimes, religion.." - from Seeds

As much as the world angers us, I believe in my heart of hearts that anger is not going to get the job of wholeness done -- at least not by itself. But, oh, how that sneaky abyss beckons.

It isn't enough that global tragedy and injustice rake our hearts like razors, make us want to cry out in fury, but it even gets replicated in everyday life in small ways. Someone snarls at me, and I want to snarl back. Lots of good that does. But the temptation to lob off a witty bon mot, flip a quick finger, give a critical glance. This proves nothing for me -- it does not even protect me from having someone snarl again. It certainly does not create peace on even the smallest level. And if we cannot find a way to aster the smallest levels, how will we ever bring peace on a larger scale?

So I find myself having to do what I don't want to do -- sit back, meditate for a while....maybe write out a gratitude list. I hate doing that. I've written before about gratitude lists -- but for those who may have missed it -- when we least feel that we need to write out a list of those things for which we are grateful -- well, that is the time we most need to do it.

I was talking to a friend about the election and how upset I was at not being able to tell what was true and what was spin sometimes, and she said "If that is all you look at, you won't be able to see anything else."

And she was right.

If we lock our vision-field onto those things that are wrong, we abandon the care and feeding of those things that are right.

If I spend too much time railing against the spin, I waste time I could be spending adding love into the world, or compassion, or generosity. If I indulge rage, creating an adrenalin high of self-righteousness, I cheat the world of the time I could have spent doing something decent.

Writing a gratitude list forces me to take my gaze elsewhere -- to the places that are full of the good in the world that I would like to nourish and increase.

It sends a different message into the world. It says that no spin can obliterate my love, my thankfulness. It says what I will allow to rule in my life. It forces me to take a whole different tone to others. If I am "in gratitude" I am entirely different than if I am "in rage".

So please join me in the creation of a gratitude list. Please give it a whirl especially if it feels burdensome or fruitless or silly. Get ten items on the list. More if you wish. Not less. Here is mine off the cuff, no edits.

Thanks offered for:
1. encouraging results at the doctor's office today.
2. signs of spring.
3. friends who really were happy about #1.
4. comfy shoes
5. having a living relative who is in good health (my last living blood relative - age 85)
6. my new house, my very first owned home.
7. being an educated woman.
8. writing, writing, writing.
9. the great books/paintings/sculptures/plays I have experienced
10. Be-bop music.

And please, check these blogs out:

Boston b at CreAAtive Intelligence posts her gratitude list.

Herbwifemama keeps a short list posted on the home blackboard that she changes when she is of a mind to add items.

Kimballkzg describes lists that she suggests her clients make, lists of gratitude that she makes and how gratitude is an essential part of spiritual discipline.

Gratitude -- it seems so trivial, so Pollyanna, but it is a serious taproot into the wellspring of wholeness. Do any of you write these lists as part of your spiritual life? If you are writing one for the first time, how did it feel? Care to share any of the items on your lists?

May you all walk in gratitude today, with many things for which to be thankful.

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