“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” ~ Mother Teresa
Imagine you buy four new tires for your car, but you hit a pothole in the road and get a blow-out on one. Can your car run smoothly with one flat tire?
Or, what if you put oil in your gas tank, or gas in your oil tank, will the car break down?
You might want to blame the tire, the car, the pothole, the city or your local government officials for not paving the potholes. But no matter who or what is to blame, irregardless of the reason, you’ve got a flat-tire that you need to repair.
The modern lifestyle has not been kind to the human body, and consequently, the human experience. Statistics of chronic disease today tell us so. But have you ever wondered how chronic disease affects us mentally and emotionally?
For many years, reports emerge telling us that mental illness is on the rise. The U.S. census says that in 2017, 8 million Americans suffer from serious psychological distress (SPD) — a term used to describe feelings of sadness, worthlessness, and restlessness that are hazardous enough to impair physical well being.
It’s fitting to wonder why so many people are suffering from serious psychological distress?
My research over the past 30 years shows that many of us are born with a bacterial imbalance in our body, the bacterial balance that keeps us physically, mentally and emotionally in check. Stable. Balanced.
If digestive health is out of balance, the balance of friendly bacteria and rogue bacteria are off, which impacts our overall wellbeing, including our mental and emotional wellbeing. The body is one unit. No system is a stand-alone unaffected by the other. Each system in the human body works synergistically with the other. If the digestive system is off, every other system is affected.
In my attempt to make sense of the tragedies from Columbine, Co, to Newtown, CT to now Las Vegas, NV, I’ve asked myself each time, would a physically, mentally and emotionally healthy person ever commit such a horrific act?
My response is the same every time, “of course not.”
But because I am a “lowest-common-denominator” kind of person, like, when I look for answers to big problems, like the rise of violence, injustice and hate in our country, I continue to break the question down for the lowest-common-denominator answer.
And every time, every single time, my response is the same common-denominator response: Where do I bring violence, injustice and hate into the world with my thoughts, words and actions? When do I act in ways less than who I am committed to being, because I didn’t good care of me? Violence is violence, yes?
I take my cue from Michael Jackson and begin with me. From this context I find my personal power and the action steps I can take that matter,
I’m starting with the woman in the mirror
I’m asking her to change her ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change…
From the context of wondering why violence, mass-shootings, injustice and hate are on the rise today, are the answers only stricter gun laws and overhauling the mental health care system? Or do we need to do the deeper work of looking at the ways we participate in perpetuating violence, injustice and hate, with our own thoughts, words and actions?
I don’t think there are any easy answers, in the face of the horrifying live-footage we’ve all seen in the news this week from Las Vegas, in the face of the deadliest mass-shooting in modern U.S. history.
But I think it’s fair to say that our country and communities are desperate for even the most simple expressions of kindness, if only a patient pause. I think it’s fair to say, that those who are different from us sorely need us to honor and love them for who they are, not who we think they should be. I think it’s fair to say that our families need our love more than ever, in spite of the gaping differences we might feel at times.
We need self-love… and sacred relationship with self too, to counter the rise of despair and sadness the U.S. census reports. How can we possibly hope to be a force for good in the world, if we carry self-loathing and violence in our hearts in an unhealthy body, instead of self-love and love for others in a healthy body?
The Buddha said,
Searching all directions
with one’s awareness,
one finds no one dearer
In the same way, others
are dear to themselves.
So one would not hurt others
if one loves oneself.
Again, there are no easy answers at times like this, but when I find myself judging any situation, tragedy or person, I always come back to me and ask lowest-common-denominator questions like, can I be kinder? Do I hurt others with harsh words, brash behavior, impatience or gossip? Is there another perspective? Can I be more loving? Can I be more generous? Can I take better care of me, so I can better take care of ‘you?’
I pray for all the families who lost loved ones in Las Vegas.
I pray for we who are charged with ending all the ways we contribute to judgement, hatred and malevolence in the world.
I pray that we learn better how to honor ourselves, our physical bodies, our emotional selves and our spiritual yearnings, so every choice we make flows from a clear and healthy body.
I pray that we learn better how to help each other care for each other.
I pray that we each seek ways to heal the our aching world.
I don’t think we can ever fully understand what happened in Las Vegas this past Sunday, October 1, 2017.
And while there are no easy answers, we can cast stones of patience, kindness and understanding.
If I do my part, by taking really good care of me (rather than looking everywhere outside myself for reasons, justifications and excuses why things are as they are), and you do your part, by taking really good care of you (fix the tire), we can join Mother Teresa and the efforts she began in sending ripples of change out into the world with every small act she extended. Surely that can make a difference. Yes?