Last week I wrote of Remembrance Day and honouring the intention of peace that lies amidst our common breath, including the ‘fallen’. I also invited us to celebrate those who have sacrificed their lives for better communities and ways of living peacefully and prosperously in our world. I think of the women around the world who courageously challenge the fundamentalist streams of various religions and governments and sometimes pay with their lives. I especially admire Malala Yousafzais’ courage to speak out on behalf of these women and she will be remembered throughout history. (You can read Malala Yousafzais’ speech to the UN at https://secure.aworldatschool.org/page/content/the-text-of-malala-yousafzais-speech-at-the-united-nations).
Today, I also think of the millions of who have been profoundly and traumatically affected by the forces of Typhoon Naiyan. How can we speak of a path to peace, to inner peace in the midst of such trauma and desperation? I humbly acknowledge my responses may be small in comparison to the scope of such destruction and despair. And still, the question of where is peace, and how to restore peace in such deep and horrendous events sits in my heart.
There are considerations and questions that I have heard teachers and people make about what it means to become spiritually awake and peaceful in our hearts. For example, many spiritual traditions, teachers and key spiritual principles speak of ‘do not fear’, ‘do not worry’ or some similar precept, including the precepts in Reiki Ryoho.
How can we ask these people not to fear? Not to worry? Given what they are experiencing and needing to face for a long time, fear and worry may be a post-traumatic effect for years to come.
Second, how do we perceive the Filipinos now? Yesterday, a colleague was sharing about a film called Good Evening, Mr. Wallenburg about a Swedish diplomat who saved thousands of Jewish lives during WWII. My colleague was struck by a Jewish woman survivor of WWII in the film who stated: ‘if we are victims, we are not fully human.’ Powerful words indeed.
We often hear we are cannot be alive, living and experiencing love if we see ourselves as victims. In such massive events as a typhoon, do we have the right to ask them not to feel like victims? It makes me realize again that I cannot name the experience for another in ways that takes away their power to name their own reality and self-identity.
In all these incredibly powerful stories of our collective humanity what stands out for me is that it is the power of community who in its compassionate and kind responsiveness helps those in despair ‘not to fear’. It is not up to these people ‘not to fear’. It is up to the communities who surround them globally to act and be responsive to their needs on all levels so they don’t need to live continuously in trauma and fear.
It’s up to us to BE the powerful community they need. In our responsiveness, we hold them in our hands, our hearts, and in our first aid, so they can re-gain their dignity, their livelihood, their health, their way of engaging in the world. When they can trust completely the rest of the global family to show up for them in all these ways, they don’t need to live in fear.
I wonder if it isn’t the forsakenness, the abandonment, the alienation by the rest of the global family that has turned the ‘sense of self’ of children of violence and communities of catastrophes into victims. When the community forgets and neglects its power and responsibility to heal and respond, people forget they are more than victims.
In a small way, I also experienced the power of community in this past month. Unexpected demands were put on my plate, including finding a new office location in a month. I will be starting this week from a new space (69 Arthur St. S, Elmira) and there is a real sense of a new beginning, a prosperous path forward. How I came to this inner peace and new beginning, however, is because of the community who gathered around me to help me create and sustain my life and service.
I had the great pleasure and privilege of friends, family and colleagues help me to move and set up my new office (a special thank you to Lucy, Karen, Jodi and her family – I am thrilled with the results!). I had colleagues willing to take on more in our committee because I couldn’t attend or take on further demands in this past month. I had family to visit and support us following my mother’s surgery. I had clients (bless my clients – I have such amazing clients!!) who shared their concerns, positive wishes, their compassion and graciousness even as I offered sessions at different locations during this transition.
I could have seen this unexpected termination letter from my landlord as something that happened against me or to me and left me victim. I decided, however, something better will come along and then as the stresses accumulated, I simply asked for help. My community stepped forward in big ways and thus I thrived. My inner peace is supported and sustained, not only by my personal connection with the Divine, but equally because of the community who lovingly surrounds me.
I invite you to reflect on who is your community? How do you show up to be community to others? What improvements in your inner peace do you experience when you are connected with community? Take a moment right now to honour and thank them.