From a collective perspective, we only need to watch the news to witness the violence and destruction entrenched positions can engender. And while it is extremely disturbing to truly take in just how cruel we are to our fellow humans and to our planet—cruelty masked in the name of righteousness—it is equally disturbing to contemplate what positive steps can be taken to help ease the constant bloodshed. Feeling ineffectual in the face of so many battlefields is its own struggle—it is an internal combat zone that challenges the heart and the soul. Unfortunately, there is no antidote to the violence that surrounds us until the people fighting with each other can come to a different consciousness.
Those of who want to help but can’t figure out how to make a difference in the world can practice psychic civil disobedience: We can refuse to engage in violence in our own lives. No road rage. No spankings. No vengeful behavior. No kicking the dog. No screaming at the barista. No exceptions. This form of nonviolent protest is simply the refusal to obey the societal norms that tell us we should put ourselves first, even when that harms another.
Of course, non-violent resistance won’t be easy because we can always rationalize and justify our reactive bad behavior. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth a try, especially when it comes to managing our internal universe—and the violence we do to ourselves that no one sees. No brooding angry thoughts that dwell on all the wrongs of others. No bludgeoning the heart with a scolding litany of all that is wrong with you. No secret wish that harm comes to another because someone else’s suffering will alleviate your own. No blaming another for your situation. No exceptions.
Negative thoughts only give birth to negative words and deeds. And in this time of violence, non-violence is the only solution. I know some of you are thinking that I’ve OD’d on my Pollyanna pills, but I haven’t. While we’ve yet to amass enough people to put an end to war—and we may never—we can certainly end our personal battles and teach ourselves to love, more, and our children to care about each other, more. We are, after all, the most powerful change agents on this planet, and each of us—every individual—has the power to make a difference. Use your power safely and wisely.
The Aquarium Age/Ralfee Finn