As we continue to process the shootings in Orlando, and now as 60 members of the House of Representatives stage a sit-in to push for gun legislation, I want to share a few points about how we collectively allow ourselves to feel - and heal - through such a national tragedy.
I simply cannot iterate how extremely difficult, scary, vulnerable, empowering and healing that is.
A thorough examination of self in front of other human beings allows oneself to drop the "act" or persona we've been playing for years. (Or maybe it's playing us without us even realizing it as we're mostly on unconscious autopilot).
Where do we feel? How do we heal? Why do we segregate? Us vs. Them. To make ourselves feel better about our fears of someone who seems different and yet science says (through the Human Genome Project) that (on average) we share 99.5% of the same DNA sequence of all other human beings.
How do we make conscious choices about actively sharing love in the world? That's not Pollyanna. That's empowerment. That's not New Age "woo-woo," that's philosophy.
How do we decrease our footprint of prejudicial exclusion and expand our circle of inclusion?
I'm not different than you because of whom I love. I'm not different from you because I meditate, but you pray. I'm not exotic because I come from a country you've never heard of.
'Merika isn't the Universe. It's a tiny label we've given our home that exists in a solar system with billions of other such homes we've never even heard of. That's ultimately how small and insignificant we are.
We're human. We get scared. We feel separate. Our reinforcing any belief system that pits us against anyone else only reinforces the illusion of separatism and allows us to marginalize others.
The narratives have to change.
Here's what our policy makers will learn in an acting class:
We always have a choice. When dealing with tragedy, challenges, personal setbacks, and the unexplainable - we always have a choice in how to respond. Perhaps before reacting (from a memorized script we've heard thousands of times before), we each take a breath and ask ourselves, "Is what I'm about to say going to leave the person I am speaking to more uplifted, inspired or hopeful? If not, maybe I could choose not to say it." What if we sat instead with our feelings rather than reacted? But we have very few spaces to do that nowadays. We live in a culture that demands answers to things immediately. And yet, the natural process of life ultimately takes much longer than the 3-second sound bites we've become accustomed to ingesting for things to often reveal themselves.
If you're an empath - and I hope you are - the things that happen to other people out there also collectively happen to you. There is no me or them. It's us. It's consciousness. It's connection. If you can't sit with that, at the very least, it's called compassion. Anyone I can marginalize so that I feel like I'm in control is not empathy. Taking an acting class will wrestle control from your ideas, plans and hands and prostrate you at the feet of humbleness realizing we have no control. So trying to create false versions of it are futile.
Feeling is the only way we get liberated from the imprisonment not feeling brings. Interesting paradox; feeling is the expression of our life force, but burying feeling destroys lives. Everyone's addicted to something. Yes, you are! Cigarettes. Drinking. Shopping. Gossip. Our phones. Porn. Negativity. Facebook. Scrolling Instagram pics. TV. Drugs. Unhappiness. Complaining. If you can admit you are, you're halfway home. If you can see what the addiction is, you then can probably identify what you feel that drives the addiction into place. Loneliness. Shame. Anxiety. Separation. Depression. Futility. Existential Angst. Fear. In extreme cases, our aversion to going deep into our feeling is what leads to violent explosions of all kinds. If you want to heal, you have to feel.
James Baldwin said, "All artists, if they are to survive, are forced, at last, to tell the whole story; to vomit the anguish up." Catharsis (from the Greek) is the process of purifying or healing through feeling. The expression of it, the release into it, the sharing of it creates renewal, redemption, restoration and ultimately, a life of meaning.
So Congress how about it? Instead of talking, talking, talking about things . . . why don't you feel them instead?