The deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history happened in Orlando on June 12, 2016.
It is surreal to see and hear people like Stephen Colbert and Anderson Cooper talking about my neighborhood – the attack happened about 2 miles from my house.
We’ve already seen a lot of the love, especially here in Orlando. People are donating blood, and food, and time, and money, and genuinely serving the community.
And there have been many beautiful vigils in support of Orlando locally, nationally, and all over the world. The image above is from a vigil in Taipei (photo cred: Kerim Freidman).
On the flip side, it didn’t take long for the conversation to devolve into a political one. Both of the major political parties point the finger at the each other: whether it’s blaming President Obama, reacting angrily to Donald Trump’s comments, or any of a myriad of ways we look to place blame following mass shootings and other heinous acts.
Everyone is looking for a reason. That is what we humans do – we look for a reason so that we can feel empowered to prevent the same thing in the future. Some folks with more conservative leanings put the blame on how our country handles Islamic terrorists – suggesting we place bans on allowing any Muslims to enter the country. Other folks with more liberal leanings put the blame on gun control – suggesting we implement stricter laws.
These are short-term solutions. They don’t address the root cause of the problem: the underlying hatred, anger, fear, and depravity that we are experiencing as human beings. The Dark Side, if you will. Each of us has it within us on some level. But we distinguish ourselves from those who commit horrific and terrorist attacks, while at the same time harboring anger and hatred in our own hearts – often directed toward our fellow Americans with whom we disagree politically.
Just check your Facebook feed. Yesterday, my feed was full of well-meaning posts with underlying anger and hate placing blame on one political ideology or the other, along with comments back and forth also tinged with anger and hate placing blame on the opposing ideology.
On the positive side, my feed was also full of an outpouring of prayers, love and support from all over the world; old friends checking in, photos of all the amazing vigils in Orlando and beyond. Truly awesome.
I’ll take more of the latter, less of the former.
Because from a yogic perspective, the solution to the problem doesn’t lie in any of the suggestions from any of the political camps. The deeper issue isn’t religion, or guns, or homophobia: it’s the sense of separation from each other and the Universe that the human race is experiencing on a large scale.
A lot of us feel very separate from each other. We don’t see each other as brothers and sisters. We see those that are different from us – those from other countries or religions or those with whom we disagree with politically – as enemies and rivals. It is easy to do this when we deal with extremists. It is easy to hate the Westboro Baptist Church or Islamic Terrorists and feel righteous about our anger. But in so doing, we fail to recognize the underlying unity in all of humanity and in all of existence.
The yogic solution lies in recognizing the underlying unity – the underlying divinity even – that exists in each of us, even those who have been poisoned by the Dark Side. When we recognize that at our core we are all the same, that we all come from the very same seeds as the planets and stars, and that we are all intrinsically interconnected to one another – such that what we do affects each and every other being on Earth in some way – then we have no desire to hate each other; we have no desire to separate and categorize each other according to our religious or political beliefs or any of our ideologies. We let each other be.
Hate cannot exist in a world where humans live with the understanding that we are all part of the One. We are all interconnected parts of the Whole. When we live from that perspective, all we can feel is compassion and love for our fellow humans.
A lot of us are suffering. There is much anger, fear, and hatred in our world. We are heartsick and our minds are frequently burdened with anxious and erratic thoughts, and we add fuel to the global-hate-fire without even realizing what we are doing.
The truth is, we are not going to be able to fight the problem at the level of the problem. We can ban immigrants from entering the country and enact legislation to strictly regulate guns, but that doing so doesn’t resolve the underlying sense of separation that humanity is suffering from.
The real solution lies in elevating our consciousness and serving our fellow humans. We can work on ourselves and refuse to give in to angry political talk. We can look a Westboro Baptist Church protester in the eye and feel love and compassion, all the while passionately serving the causes we believe in without vitriol. We can raise our individual consciousnesses; we can raise our individual vibrations.
And then, like musical instruments in the same room – when one is played and starts to vibrate at a certain musical frequency, the other instruments naturally start to vibrate at that same frequency – if we simply work on ourselves and raise our own vibrational frequency to that of love and compassion, we can help raise the frequency of all of Earth.
This isn’t woo-woo speak. Energy and emotions are palpable, and we become more and more sensitive to them as our level of awareness increases.
So let’s stop blaming those that disagree with us politically. This tragedy is not an opportunity for us to espouse our individual political views.
This tragedy is an opportunity to recognize the preciousness of life on Earth. We could literally die at any moment, so what is there to do but live?
Let’s ask ourselves, why are we here if not to grow and learn; to awaken and elevate our minds and hearts? On an individual, day-to-day level, it may be the absolute best thing we can do – to offer our individual minds and hearts toward the cause of human awakening. And with that comes a natural desire to serve our fellow man.
And let’s place more emphasis and attention on unifying actions – like service, charity, and love – and less emphasis on a never-ending political debate that only serves to alienate and separate us.