15th April 2015

How Can I Deal with Atrocities?

When we are confronted with appalling massacres and atrocities such as those in the Middle East and Africa most recently, what are we meant to do? It can be very difficult to understand how to relate to such events. I experience emotions of anger, outrage, fear, horror, incomprehension, pain, futility, compassion, pity, and deep sadness … followed by a sense of impotence and uselessness – what can I do?

How can I relate to such events? How can I “process” such emotions? How can I integrate the shocking, appalling images and information? If I’m not careful, I can feel “outrage fatigue” setting in. I deaden myself to those emotions, rationalising them away, barricading myself behind defensive judgments – or experience moments of despair as I generalise on the state of “humanity” and fear losing hope in humanity’s evolutionary journey. Then “smaller” injustices and brutalities closer to home accrete to reinforce my depression … And I know from conversations with friends and clients that I am not alone in this.

Of course, these emotional responses are fully justified as part of our humanity. We are, as Brene Brown says, “Hard-wired for connection” and to deny or deaden these responses is to deny and deaden our humanity in all areas. Such events are, indeed, horrendous in the extreme, but if I lose my perspective, my connection with myself and the broader context, I am lost.

It is a great shame that a tiny minority of insane people can have such a powerfully destructive and negative impact on the rest of a largely peaceful, relatively harmonious, caring humanity - increasingly so through the global media now available. And to have such a negative, fear-producing impact is exactly what such groups want, of course …

It seems that the age old reasons for violence of group upon group – ego, greed and power, the (justifiable?) anger and resentment of the dispossessed - are now increasingly being supported by a deep need in some for simple, “clear” truths in response to the unavoidable impact of realising the complexity, relativity and fluidity of our reality through the increase in global connection and communication.

We need to remember that it really is a tiny minority, however, and not let them distract us from what we know to be true about humanity.  To do anything positive, we must not allow ourselves to be infected by their fear and aggression. 

Deeply linked to my sense of humanity’s compassion, positivity, potential and purpose, I can then see what action I can take to counter the negative and the devolutionary energy of their insanity. 

Whatever action I may or may not be able to take from my place in the world, I can always generate positive and compassionate energy within and radiate this out into my environment.  In many ways, this is the most powerful thing I can do.  We forget that all that occurs outside/in the tangible realm is a result of what happens inside/in the intangible realm. 

Science – with its quantum exploration, string theory, M-theory, zero-point field quantum vacuum, all-pervading and interacting electromagnetic fields, dark matter/energy – is reinforcing the views of humanity’s visionaries, poets and ancient philosophies through the Vedas, the Toa, the Sufis etc.:   “No man is an island, entire of itself” – we are all, each of us, active participants in the continual co-creative process of the universal unfolding.

What would the world look like if 10%, or 20%, or 50% of the human population generated only positivity and no fear at all?

I suppose it comes down to a core question:  what do I choose to do with my energy?  What do I choose to serve with my energy, my time, my life? Do I choose fear and its children anger, aggression, negativity, judgment and violence whether active or passive … or do I choose connection, presence, self-responsibility, compassion and positive inner and outer action?

This is not a call to some sort of self-calming, Panglossian, ultimately delusional, “All is well in this best of all possible worlds”!

It is a call to active choice, to be responsible for the world we choose to create by our presence and participation, to choose how we spend the gift of our lives in all our varied roles and worlds.

And it is, of course, the essence of self-leadership, without which …

No need to wait for the next shocking news bulletin - start with those smaller upsets, injustices and shocks that we experience every day - the "stupid" decision, the "obvious" mistake, the "appalling" driver that cuts you up ...

How Can I Deal with Atrocities?

How Can I Deal with Atrocities?

Posted by Jefferson Cann

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