“At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
I go on the internet and what do I see? News and more news on extreme violence terrorizing innocent people. Twelve officers shot, five killed by snipers during a protest march in Dallas. Over 50 people massacred at a gay night club in Orlando. A truck driver killed over 84 bystanders during Bastille Days in Paris.
The list goes on with violent tragedies occurring in our towns, our country and throughout the world. It’s a scary place growing scarier every day as the hate and anger continues to rise.
How do we respond to the injustice of violence creating devastating amounts of pain? How can we deal with these tragedies with the highest good?
Compassion. The only true cure for violence.
Every violent act no matter how big or small is wrong damaging humanity and the world around it. But, responding to violence with violence is just as wrong resulting in hurting oneself in the process. If we react to violence with violence, it creates more violence. If we react to hate with hate, it creates more hate. If we react to anger with anger, it creates more anger.
But if we react to violence, hate and anger with compassion, it creates peace, love and healing. Look at the teachings of Jesus Christ, He taught us to handle violence with love and compassion, not violence with violence. On the night of Jesus’s arrest he said, “Put your sword back in its place… for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” (Matthew 26:52) He also points us to the beatitudes “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9) Jesus showed us the true power of non-violence.
In the event of these horrific tragedies, we are called upon to recognize the violence and suffering in the world. This grants us the opportunity to respond with compassion and prayer helping to alleviate the pain. We need to remain calm and centered so we can listen deeply and understand the suffering of others, ourselves, our nation and the world. With this embrace, we connect deeper learning the root cause of our suffering. Together, we can find the right solution and follow the correct path for creating peace.
But, where do we begin using compassion to make a difference in the world?
It begins with us.
Acts of violence is caused by anger, hate, fear, judgement, discrimination and misunderstanding. But, we all need to take responsibility for these emotions because we are co-creators in this world. If will live negative lifestyles of consuming violence, it becomes a breeding ground for anger to grow. Such activities might include:
- Watching graphic, violent entertainment and video games
- Abusing intoxicants, misusing sex, stealing, lying or gambling
- Participating in gossip or slandering others
- Consuming foods and drinks filled with chemicals
- Beating ourselves up mentally with negative thinking and/or self-talk
- Unwilling to be generous or of service to others in need
To create more compassion in the world, we must be compassionate with ourselves first. Learning to love and accept all who we are creates inner peace and stillness. We can remove the toxic emotions of anger, hate and fear and fill our hearts with lovingkindness, peace and compassion.
By changing to a positive lifestyle, we’ll develop the qualities of love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. We can make better choices and engage in activities that nurture our souls such as:
- Being creative with writing, painting, drawing, photography or crafts
- Spending time in nature
- Sitting in meditation and deep prayer
- Using positive affirmations
- Speaking kindly with love and respect towards others
- Eating wholesome, natural and healthy foods to nourish your body
- Showing gratitude for everything you have
- Being of service to others with your time and talents
Once we learn to love ourselves, we can extend this love towards family, friends, co-workers and acquaintances. We can embrace and understand their suffering helping to calm their fears, pain and despair. By treating each other and ourselves with compassion, we spread the seeds of love on fertile soil. This right action waters the seeds of compassion allowing our love to grow stronger, brighter and wider. The more we water the seeds, the more love grows, the more peace and harmony exists in the world.
We must also pray. We pray for the victims of violence and their families. We pray for ourselves to be compassionate and pass this light onto to others. We pray for healing and strength for our family, friends and colleagues. We pray for peace among strangers in our towns, country and throughout the world. And, we pray for our attackers. They, too, are also suffering and if they see light, it gives them a chance to heal and stop hurting others.
If we want to create a better place filled with light and love, every day we must work on becoming compassionate and peaceful beings. Our world is suffering. She is hurting deeply. She is crying out to us in deep pain for two simple things.
“Less violence. More love.”