I need to work through this issue – face those involved, hold difficult, though as yet ill-conceived conversations – but I’m not going there. I’m hesitant, resistant, and continually bumping into the same barriers.
As I mull this over, I’m reminded of Outward Bound. This organization uses outdoor adventures to put people in unfamiliar settings and experience challenge in a way that helps them discover that they can do more than they thought possible. One key with Outward Bound is, when you find yourself in a sticky situation, don’t resist it but navigate through it. Embrace it. Participate in it.
We’ve seen this on a larger scale as well. When people oppress others, resistance builds and if successful, becomes a turning of the tables. The oppressed become the oppressors. If the oppressed choose to participate by embracing all involved (e.g., from violent oppression to compassionate inclusion), a new order may emerge as in Gandhi’s India, Mandela’s South Africa, and King’s America.
Personally, how do I – how do you – compassionately participate when faced with insult, injustice, or even violence? How do we choose to embrace love in those situations?
Opening oneself in love requires courage. It’s often unfamiliar territory and brings challenges that promise pain and guarantee little else. It draws upon deeper resources than we think we have, and, over time, delivers better outcomes than we thought possible.
Joseph Campbell said, “You cannot relate at all to something in which you did not somehow participate.”
Shall I choose to participate in love? We’ll see…with every new situation, we’ll see.
It is natural for men to help and to love one another, but not to torture and to kill one another. Leo Tolstoy
Enjoy this extended article on Tolstoy’s letters to Gandhi on Love, Violence, and the Truth of the Human Spirit (read now)