“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Mass shootings, widespread hatred, bigotry, racism, and a divisiveness that cuts so deep is in many ways how I might sum up 2017. And at times when it feels like the darkness is overpowering the light, I am reminded with a glimmer of hope that there IS more good in the world than evil.
But we have to be the light every day, even when it’s hard and when we want to fire back in rage and anger.
I am a huge animal lover and receive emails from all of the major animal activism organizations almost daily. I keep telling myself that I should unsubscribe because the pain and anger I feel when I see another helpless animal tortured is too much. But last night on my drive home from work, something different happened. I opened an email petition about a horrific animal abuse and immediately went into my usual spiral of anger and sadness when a slight and unexpected shift happened. The injustice this time felt almost too much to handle, and maybe it had something to do with the fact that I am 28 weeks pregnant, raising a toddler, and working a full-time job or the flashing headline in the back of my mind of yet another school shooting. Whatever it was, this one hit me especially hard. I couldn’t cope or work through it using my breath so I tried something different. I started saying a mantra I had never used before, “I am pure white light.” I do not know where it came from, but it helped me to feel better. I told myself that it was not me who hurt that poor animal and if I ever was to witness something like that I would do something. I would not stand by as many people did videotaping the brutal attack on their iPhones. I would act. I also came to the powerful realization that the person committing the crime had slipped into darkness, which unfortunately is quite easy to do. The overpowering influence of a crowd or the feeling of being on stage plays a part in good people doing bad things. As I worked through these thoughts…
…I forgave him.
My rage and anger and images of what I would say to him or do faded. Being a light that stands for love and healing forces true change, just as the great Dr. King said so beautifully. Only light can drive out darkness.
Now, more than ever we must be that light for ourselves, our friends and family, and our children. In the midst of overwhelming despair and violent acts driven by mental suffering we cannot rely on anyone else to fix it. We have to.
Simple Acts of Kindness
You might be wondering, well how can I be the light? One of my favorite ways to spread love is by simply buying the person’s coffee behind me at the Starbucks drive through. This might seem super small, but I can vividly remember the first time a perfect stranger on a random Wednesday bought my coffee. The woman at the driveway window said that person ahead of you asks only that you pay it forward. Wow! I was immediately jolted out of my morning zombie fog into a state of intense presence, love, and gratitude. Find ways to spread the light every day. Find common ground with a co-worker you often disagree with, show gratitude to those closest to you who we often take for granted, find balance in your life so you can bring quality and your best self to each moment, and bring your light to the darkest of corners.