The enemy is fear. We think it is hate; but it is fear. ~ Gandhi
I remember waiting on the platform of the underground in London when the station was flooded with skinheads. I felt fear and did my best to be as unobtrusive as possible. I know not all skinheads are fascist neo-Nazi’s, but I was afraid. I was no longer with people on the platform. I was with an “other” that scared me.
As I watched the news of the violence in Charlottesville, and heard about more upcoming white supremacist marches across the United States, I felt disturbed and sad. And as much as I do not support white extremist racism, domestic terrorism or intolerance, I recognized that my disturbance, sadness, and animosity were not caused by them. They were a reflection of my own judgments and loathing. I also knew that acting from that state of mind would not contribute to greater peace, love, and understanding.
I reflected on the question, “How do I stand for love, peace, understanding, and tolerance without adding more negativity to the fast burning flames of anger and outrage?” Gandhi is the icon of nonviolent protest, and it is his model I intend to follow.
“We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.”
Gandhi points to our own level of consciousness and makes that the priority. That is why this quote has been paraphrased to, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” So first, I must own and address my capacity to be intolerant, prejudiced, and hateful. Let me turn the mirror on myself so I can see more ways I can have an open-heart and be kind and loving. It is easy for me to judge neo-Nazis and racists and add my anger to the mix, but it is far more fruitful for me to love them.
My intention is to love in the face of hatred. I believe that fear is the source of violence. Therefore, if the problem is fear, and the by-product is violence, the solution to violence comes from alleviating fear.
Fortunately, addressing fear is far easier than quelling violence. What it requires is an understanding that we are the source of our own feelings. When we understand that our feeling state is our responsibility, it becomes impossible to blame another for our suffering.
Even when I was standing on the underground platform in London, a brown woman in a sea of skinheads, my fear was coming from my thinking, not them. But if I don’t see this, I blame them for disturbing my peace. I fall into the same trap of judgment and righteousness that the white supremacists embrace. Behind their anger is fear. We do not combat fear with more anger. We combat fear with understanding, compassion, and an open-heart.
This is the understanding shared by theosopher Sydney Banks. This is the truth pointed to in many spiritual teachings. This is the way forward. For each of us to wake up more fully to the truth of who we are and share that in the world. Let love and peace outweigh violence and hatred. There can be a tipping point.
Let us be the light in the world that helps others no matter who they are and no matter what they believe. Daryl Davis is an example of this. He is a musician who made it his mission to befriend people in hate groups like the Klu Klux Klan. Here is a video where he shares about his work:
A Huffpost article Black Man Gets KKK Members To Disavow By Befriending Them from 2016 states, Davis had been given 13 robes and hoods from Klansmen he befriended and who left the group. Davis states in the article, “I appeal to people’s common sense. I don’t seek to convert them but if they spend time with me, they can’t hate me. [The Klansman] sees that I want the same thing for my family as he does for his … if you can work on the things in common, that’s how you build friendship.”
Daryl Davis is able to do what he does because he does not blame. I, too, am open to having a dialogue with any person or group involved in Unite the Right or similar demonstrations who is open to it. It would not be my intent to change beliefs. It would simply be to share an understanding of how the mind works that reveals the source of suffering. It is an understanding that helps people to be less afraid and to experience more inner peace and wellbeing. It is an understanding that has transformed my consciousness and my life.
I am committed to sharing the principles that create the human experience with others no matter what their belief system is because this understanding reduces suffering. I believe it has the potential to change the world. Fundamentally, we are all human. We are all doing the best we can with the understanding we have in the moment. None of us are evil, even when we commit heinous acts. As Solzhenitsyn said, “If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart.”
We cannot ask for people to do better than what they know, but we can help to clarify misunderstandings. I am serious about being open for dialogue. Please reach out to me if you have any contacts I can speak to.