But there is another side, and it is boundless. Today, I was walking to the Asian Market in the windy cold of Chicago to pick up some green tea. I am in town visiting my twin bro and I am drinking he and his wife out of house and home, tea-wise. On my way there, I saw this old dude digging through a garbage can. He was wearing a huge winter coat and shoes with no laces. His hair was a mangled mess. It is a sadly familiar scene in almost any city these days, I am guessing. Seconds later, another man who had been waiting at the bus stop 20 feet away appeared next to him and handed him a couple of bags of chips. The old guy looked at him as if he was blown away by this gesture, like he almost couldn't believe it was happening. He thanked him profusely and I think I even heard him bless the stranger.
As I walked by, I pulled a You Are Love card out of my pocket and handed it to the stranger who had given the chips to the old guy and was by this time, walking back to the bus stop. As I walked away, he yelled "Thank you!" after me and as I turned around to look back, he gave me a broad smile.
I felt like I could fly. It was such a tiny thing. Really, it was nothing, two bags of chips, and the smile on the face of a homeless man, but I had seen a glimmer of something, amidst all the pain and desperation that I had been feeling over the last few days that gave me hope. It shocked me back into humanity and reminded me that when we care for each other, it is enough. When we reach out to help, that is enough. When I saw that man give the old guy the chips, it was like all the other stuff melted away, and I remembered what I have been writing about constantly for the last couple of years; that in the end, love is what matters.
I ended last week's post with a statement; that we will learn, one way or another, if love is the answer to all this hatred and oppression. I think that it is time to start doing that hard work. It is becoming more and more challenging to reach out to people, but until we recognize that our differences are only skin deep, we will never know our true potential.
We must heal ourselves before we can heal the world, and part of that is really listening to each other and reaching out. This is when love can be scary. We have all been hurt in the asking for love or connection. I don't think anyone goes through life avoiding this experience. But owning up to our own hand in the pain of others and being present for them going forward is a commitment that we must make.
We must commit to ourselves and each other. We have too many distractions, too much entertainment keeping us from doing this. Any time you are feeling bad, you can just turn on the TV, pick up your phone, or turn on the computer, and you don't have to feel. When you are sitting with your friend, relative, partner or spouse, you always have the ability to pick up your phone and start a conversation with another person. This happens all the time; two people sit in a restaurant, lie in a bed, or walk down the street, completely ignoring each other so that they can do the easy thing on the phone. There are so many things keeping us from focusing on the business of being human, but we must. We must turn off the TV, put down the phone, and find a way; not only because the growing disconnect between people is causing severe problems in society, but also because the best thing we can do is to connect and empathize with other humans. Connection between us and what that can provide is why we are here.
So, I have a suggestion for you: the next time you are in pain, or scared, ask yourself who you might be able to share it with. Ask yourself who might help you with it, and share your feelings with that person. The next time someone is acting angry or hateful, instead of condemning them, ask them what they need. Instead of pushing back with your anger and hate, offer them something different, something that shows that you see them and it is safe for them to be angry around you. Anger, like any emotion, is fleeting if you understand how to express it and have a good support system in which to do so. Anger can be transformative. But, if it is held on to, pushed down, and stoked, it can destroy your life.
We have not been taught to handle anger, not productively. The fear around it and what it might mean about our character is such that many of us have been taught to push it down or hide it. Not to mention that if you are an angry woman, or an angry minority, it casts great doubt over the quality of your sanity and well-being.
Showing your anger to someone requires trust. This is why you see so many people misplacing their anger on people who do not deserve it; it is because the person they are angry with in some way broke their trust, and they move forward not trusting that person enough to reveal that anger.
Anger is a secondary emotion, and usually is a reaction to fear, sadness, or some type of inflicted emotional pain. Sometimes it comes up long after an incident has occurred, or long after a series of experiences happen, but generally, it is about a feeling of powerlessness. The object is to find the emotion behind the anger, and figure out how to address it.
We have all felt angry at one point or another; we have been victimized, abused, powerless, or worse, maybe all our lives, maybe for short spurts, definitely for different reasons, but it is up to all of us to properly identify why and properly identify who is responsible. It is also up to us not to take it out on people who are not responsible.
Being able to choose love is not easy. Everything around us tells us to be afraid. Everything around us is presented as a threat, and the pain we have endured for much of our lives hurts even more when others reject or diminish it. But the more we turn away from each other and from ourselves, the less likely it is that we will have the strength to come back.
And we must come back.