These past weeks have been so challenging for me emotionally and mentally, as I know it has been for many others around the world. The photos, videos and testimonies pouring in about the heart wrenching plight of the refugees from Syria is painful enough, but I’ve also found that others’ reactions have been upsetting me even more than the stories of the refugees themselves. Things like Trump wanting to build a “big, beautiful wall” to keep out all of the “terrorists” (as if ALL Muslims and/or refugees shouldn’t be allowed asylum because of a small faction of violent extremists). Add to that a whole hodgepodge of Facebook and Instagram and news updates where, in my eyes, the proud people of America seem to be reduced to fearful, sniveling, greedy, egotistical, close-minded, narrow-minded, ignorant, thoughtless, cliche-y children trying to keep the unfamiliar new kid out of the sandbox out of fear of… what? Change? In truth, I don’t even like to use the word “children” because kids tend to typically be less judgmental and fearful than adults.
But as I have been sitting here and writing this, and over the past several days of having a constant stomachache from watching videos of terrified, hypothermic children stumbling onto the shore of Lesbos, Greece, and then scrolling down to find someone agreeing that not a single refugee should gain freedom and peace on our land and in our wonderful country (which is made up of NOTHING BUT REFUGEES AND THEIR DESCENDANTS except for the Native Americans), I have realized that I am judging the people with those opinions just as they are judging refugees and/or Muslims. Though it hurts my ego to admit it, I am no better than them. I have sunk to the level of judgment, fear and resentment, the very things I have been labeling other people with.
I realize that I must find peace with all of this, and not just me, but truly we all do, no matter what our opinions are. In the end, it doesn’t matter whether we want the refugees to be allowed into America or not, because people are going to believe what they want to, no matter how much we may try to make them see differently. What REALLY matters is that we look within, and honestly answer ourselves the only question that matters in life: are we living from fear or love? Am I saying this because I am scared someone is going to take something from me, or am I saying this from a place of trust in the Universe, in Buddah, in Allah, in the God of my Heart, in the Lord Jesus Christ, in the stars and the trees and Mother Earth, in the Great Nothingness of Atheism?
If we all, before we spoke or wrote or moved, asked ourselves from which of the two emotions that underlie all of our actions as beings of this earth we are coming from, and then we honestly answered it as “love” or “fear” I believe that compassion, peace, clarity and patience would begin to replace fear, ignorance, head-stuck-up-the-assness, and cruelty. This goes for me just as much as it goes for those who watch Fox News.
As I write this I really have to smile, because the ache of judgment and fear is being unwound from my heart. Truly we are all refugees in our own right. Some of us are washing up on the beaches of Greece, and the rest of us are desperately trying, in our own ways, to get to the promised shores of our Souls. Whether we are being tear gassed at the border or trying to break out of a toxic relationship or a suffocating job or an anxiety disorder, let us all look within and open our arms and our hearts to our inner refugees, the parts of ourselves that we have denied, judged, shunned and cast-off as dangerous and worthless.
For me personally, that is accepting my scared and rebellious inner child, the part of me that hides her feelings and vulnerability behind sharp words and anger, for fear that I won’t even be allowed beyond the gates of my own private country: myself.
So, let’s all take this day by day. Just one day at a time, whether you want to build a wall around the southern border of America or not, whether you’re liberal or conservative or independent or Republican or Democrat or Christian or Muslim… let’s just forget all of that because in reality, it doesn’t matter.
What matters is that regardless of what our countries are doing, let us ease up on the border patrol and impossible background checks that we place on our own hearts and souls, on the “impossible” dreams and “stupid” vulnerabilities and “dangerous” dark parts of ourselves that we would rather keep hidden. Because by denying even one part of ourself, we end up denying our full potential as a spiritual being having a human experience.
I believe the same goes for denying even one other human on this planet the privilege of having a piece of our compassion, whether we donate money or our time or even just our loving thoughts to their happy ending to a difficult journey.
I will end this with a quote from Gandhi which I think sums it all up perfectly.
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others."