It’s hard to know what to do in the face of so many tragic back-to-back shootings recently. Political channels can be good. We need meaningful gun control, a fair justice system and I applaud those working on these levels.
But I keep coming back to the basics too. We’re social animals. We learn from watching others and mimic them, especially our parents, friends, and public figures. People – be they cops, criminals or ordinary people – who use violence against others because of difference didn’t encounter enough good examples to mimic. They never learned that harm has a ripple effect that eventually harms them too. Furthermore, they weren’t given tools to find peace in themselves and regulate anger – learned skills as much as math and reading are.
So first off, we have to have compassion for these people who have done horrible things. I’m not saying there shouldn’t be justice, but justice should be motivated by compassion and forgiveness. We all have similar types of brains that soak up our surroundings and we could have easily been born into their circumstances. We could easily be full of anger and hate. We could be terribly confused and have just shot someone.
It’s tempting to want to go rage and blame some person or group for all the shootings and that’s natural. But I don’t think this will help in the long run. The problem of violence has a root that we are all responsible for. The root, I think, is:
A.) That not enough of us have encountered tools to find peace and satisfaction inside.
B.) Because of that, we adhere to a false belief, through the way are own biology and brains trick us, that we are hardened, separate individuals who can find happiness by acquiring more stuff and popularity, which usually means exploiting others. In other words, we buy into a belief that we are not part of the fluid body of life that includes black, white, and brown people, cops and not-cops, Muslim and non-Muslim, LGBTQ or not, urban and rural, animals and plants.
Talking about peace is good. Creating laws that bring about peace is excellent. But this is, in a certain sense, the window dressing on real peace. REAL PEACE, LASTING PEACE, COMES FROM THE MIND AND TAKES PRACTICE. DAILY TRAINING. It takes understanding the human mind enough to give it a regimen. I know there are many good ones out there, but meditation and yoga – and I include access to nature in these traditions – are the ones I’m most familiar with so I’ll preach about those.
These practices are really simple and they work to build experiences of equanimity, contentment, compassion, and unity without any need for external input. We even have the research now to prove it. And without an experience of peace inside – which is a catalyst to an experience of the unified field of all life – there can be no peace out there.
If you haven’t had this experience, this may sound nuts. But that’s just the issue. Because if you have, you’ll know exactly what I mean and know how important it is. Those of us who know what I mean, who have been fortunate enough to encounter these tools, have a responsibility. We have a responsibility to:
A.) Practice the tools ourselves and embody them as fully as we’re able, which takes real commitment day after day. Our children and friends are mimicking us and we are mimicking them. Every one of our actions, every one of our breaths, every one of our words, is rippling through this sea and transforming it.
B.) We have a responsibility to share these peace-generating tools with others. The police should ALL have mandatory mindfulness training. Period. Children should ALL be taught in every grade how to find peace inside – and work with anger – through non-violent communication, mindfulness, arts etc. This doesn’t need to be a religious thing at all. It’s just basic understanding of what it means to have human biology and how to be happy.
Obviously, giving every human this experience is not going to happen overnight. But violence should be a motivator to practice these tools of peace and share these tools of peace.
As within, so without.