Loving Kindness: Changing You and Then Your World
The ancient Greeks had pretty wacky ways to explain catastrophes. Their explanations might include a clever hot-headed mortal named Odysseus who escaped a sticky situation by blinding a one-eyed giant. (I won’t go into detail, even though the poet Homer had a whale of a time describing it in The Odyssey.) Turns out, the giant’s father was the god of the sea and announced he would get revenge. Odysseus then suffered a nasty voyage across the Mediterranean Sea, with encounters like a many-headed monster gobbling up most of his men— a serious loss since they were the ones who rowed the boat. In this world, one act of revenge triggered another act of revenge. That triggered another act of creative revenge. Then there would be wailing and gnashing of teeth on the part of the mortals caught in the crossfire, like the men rowing the boat.
If we change the setting of this story to Washington, D.C., does this sound familiar?
Even though we’re not getting gobbled up by a many-headed monster, we’re listening to horrific statements on TV, on social media, in public places, and even in our own homes. “Wailing and gnashing of teeth” have different names now: stress, anxiety, panic attacks.
Maybe you have stopped watching the news or shut off of social media because you find yourself clenching your jaws or tightening your shoulders, your heart rate skyrockets, and your blood boils.
Besides shutting off the news and Facebook, there is another way out that’s long-lasting. It has to do with changing you and your responses. Once you change yourself and your responses, you begin to change others. Think about it. If the hostility of one person sets off waves of anxiety in others, the opposite is true. Instead of causing others to wail and gnash their teeth, you set off a chain of events that bring calm and peace. Heck, even kindness and, dare I say it? compassion. You can make a vital contribution to our world that so desperately needs it right now.
In my workshop, Loving Kindness: Responding to a World in Protest, we learn how to change ourselves in profound and permanent ways. And when we change ourselves, we change everyone else around us. We are transformed; our world is transformed.