Yesterday I went to the Natural Living Conference put on by the Holistic Moms Network. It's a wonderful, inspiring event every year and this one was no different. Naomi Aldort spoke in the morning, and though I think she can be a little hard-core on the Attachment Parenting thing sometimes (especially her view on schooling) I got a lot of great ideas from what she had to say. There were lots of great vendors and it was nice to connect with some friends during lunch that I don't get to see very often.
The first afternoon session was a breakout session, and I attended a talk by Pamela Rich about the Heal Your Life work of Louise Hay. I was so impressed by the speaker - she was genuine, real and funny. She said a lot of thought-provoking and profound things, but one thing really stuck out in my mind. She asked us to think of a limiting thought we have, and one woman volunteered that she often thinks about how polluted our world is.
As background....the Heal Your Life work (as I understand it, anyway) is based on the idea that our thoughts are creative, and that we can transform our experience of reality by changing the way we think about it. I believe this to be true; however, the participant had a valid question. The world just is polluted, no matter what we think about it. In fact, perhaps by choosing to ignore the pollution around ourselves, we may even contribute to the problem. How can we transform this thought in our lives into something positive?
I thought Pam's answer was fantastic, and something that we all can incorporate into our lives. We cannot change other people's behavior, but what we can do is hold people in compassion and understand that they are doing the best they can with the knowledge and information they have in the moment. Nothing, she said, has ever been healed by hate. The only way we can heal anything is through love.
Wow. How true.
What an amazing lesson this is for parents and for activists. We may not like what someone is doing - hitting her brother, eating meat, dumping toxic chemicals in a local river - but the only way we can ever make a positive difference is by choosing love. Getting angry at our child for hitting someone else only escalates the anger - instead, we can choose to feel compassion for a child who is so angry or frustrated that her only way of expressing herself is through violence. We can judge someone for eating something we wouldn't, but that only closes off our hearts (and theirs as well, probably) - instead, we can choose to be thankful to the animal who sacrificed his life to become another person's food. Waging a war of words with a corporation over their polluting practices will most often result in a stalemate, where we judge them as irresponsible and they judge us as fanatical - instead, we can choose to find common ground and start to build a friendship from there.
As Pam said, forgiveness does not imply in any way that the other person's behavior is at all okay with us. It simply means that we let go of our anger about it, and accept the situation for what it is, and move on. I love that - it goes along with the whole Buddhist idea that suffering comes from our failure to live in the moment. The past and the future are not real, but when we remain attached to what happened in the past, or what might happen in the future, we suffer. If we can let go of that and simply live in the present, our anger disappears. What a beautiful, peaceful, sustainable world we would live in if everyone did this!