Paradoxically, we live in a disordered society of bigots, hypocrites, critics and narcissistic judges. On the other hand, becoming self-reflective and authentically concerned for others without judgment or condemnation raises our individual person from the self-destructive behaviors that enslaves us. The experience of enlightenment or wisdom can develop within us or is found in the courageous individuals who cross our path. Gandhi, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day, etc., are profound examples of individuals who struggled during their journey, while their self-reflective attitudes brought substantial movement of goodness—affecting others.
I view the world around me and myself like a stained glass window—broken to be made beautiful. Each pane of class broken and at times shattered by the careful efforts of the master craftsman—God, life choices and our universe. The end result, relative to a pane of glass, is a work-of-art that becomes more beautiful as a whole and brilliant when exposed the sun’s rays. Regardless of the modality we use to explain the frailty of our human existence, which some refer to as the “fall of Adam and Eve”; there exists the universal experience of our “ego” becoming the center of the universe.
When enslaved by our ego, our oftentimes unprovoked and radical reactions are portrayed through bigotry, hypocrisy, criticism and narcissism. These unsightly scabs cross all cultures and religions, for it is part of the human condition.
On the contrary, becoming self-reflective and self-aware, we unearth the rooted grip of the shadow-side of our humanity, shedding light and truth, bringing movement to humility, responsibility, accountability and acceptance of the uniqueness of others.
Here lies the rub. Recognition and movement away from our selfish, self-serving interest not only brings healing to our personal history, but also unravels the generational threads of dysfunction that lie at the foundation of the scab. Anne, you explained this process through your self-portrait photography expressed in last month’s blog.
Common to the demonstrative Ultra-Orthodox Jew, extremist Muslim, fundamentalist Christian and any other fanatical religious or secular institutions, is their outstanding aptitude in being manipulative, controlling and coercive. If this conduct prevents the emotional, spiritual or physical growth and development of another person, we have the definition of evil incarnate, according the Dr. Scott Peck in his book, ‘Children of the Lie’.
Anne, my heart aches over the destructive attitudes of governments, religions and secular institutes that judge and condemn women and men because of race, religion, sexual orientation, desire for democracy or freedom of speech and religion. As we search for truth we discover the frailty of humanity and its need for the True God of love and not the destructive god entrapped within who those who have allowed their hearts to be possessed by evil.
Awareness of What Is Healthy, Holy and Honorable
We cannot control “the messages condemning female physicality and beauty [which] come not only in the form of commercialism and parental child abuse or bullying at school… [but] from many of our religious institutions…”.
However, we can raise our minds to become aware of what is healthy, holy and honorable. We can stop perpetuating the lies we tell ourselves and seek alternative ways of perceiving other than what is fed us through societal dictates, mass media or governments.
Courage, fortitude, humility and authentic self-love are necessary for us to over-ride the inner recordings of thought patterns that wear us down to accept the lies we have been taught. The anger, bitterness and resentment that capture our memories and emotions have the ability to be used for good when we choose to use this energy in service of others. Most times our inner anger and outrage is our way of holding other’s accountable for irresponsible and reprehensible behavior. However, this energy becomes self-destructive unless we use it as creative energy to serve others.
There are “Movements” around the globe that have brought effective change. One example is the Solidarity Movement, among many. Fundamentally a Movement is the motion within us, based on truth and goodness that spontaneously leads us to freedom in collaboration with others who are seeking reform. Your blog is such a “movement”.
A friend of mine read your your most recent sharing, and this was his response:
I must say, that my heart heaved in sorrow as I read Anne’s essay and response to your message! As I read through her thoughts I felt a culpability at first for simply being male… this melted away to a sense of celebration for her discovery of her true essence within her human, woman experience. This type of esteem is a product of what I have called “Christ Esteem…” it has nothing to do with my valuation of myself, rather it has its root in the awareness or awakening to the immense and saving love of Jesus for us. That awareness gives us buoyancy in our day, and a lens through which to see the true nature of both men and women. Behavior is different than nature. To be—is different than—to do! We are human BE-ings…oh that we could see and live and do according to the Truth which love has written in our hearts… John Piselli, husband and father of four boys.
Looking Inside Ourselves
It is imperative that we recognize the bigot, hypocrite, critic and or narcissist within ourselves. Recognizing and bearing our flawed nature to another person brings healing, particularly if processed with someone who is non-judgmental and understanding. Sincerely identifying truth as you did in your self-photography accompanied by your psychologist opens us to reality and not the errors of erroneous self-perceptions. Having found our center of goodness, love and beauty, we empower ourselves to action, as you have with your blog.
Without further thought, I am left with the outrage sitting atop my heart and spirit. Making every attempt to keep from turning into anger, intense energy is boiling within me. Infuriated by the clerics and righteous religious leaders of churches who hide behind the image of God, everything within me want to explode with a loud voice exposing their false portrayals of a the One and Only True God who’s love eradicates their prejudice, arrogance, and lust for what ceases to satisfy.
Anne, if we desire to bring truth to the women and men of all societies, we need force ourselves out of our dysfunction to recognize “reality”, which is Truth. Exercises, such as your self-photography, enable us to recognize reality or “Truth” relative to perceived reality.
Our moral compass can NOT be the righteous scandalmonger who wag their victimizing tongues, fingers or guns at us, because we are unique, vulnerable or impressionable. Nor can we allow ourselves to become lost in individualism where we loose sight of being the presence of love to others.
Love: With the Force of a Hurricane
With all my being, I desire to bring upon society, with the force of a hurricane, the intensity of a tornado: love. It is this particular gift, through education, that we can bring an end to poverty, crime and prejudice.
If your mother loved and cherished you unconditionally, and the sordid priest chose to recognize his drinking buddy was a pedophile and you an innocent child, more likely you would have had no need for the healing process of self-photography.
On the other hand, I believe your history led you to be the woman you are today, reaching out across the globe, giving perspective to those who are seeking truth. In the face of my personal history of abuse, I chose to forgive, love and hold accountable those who have crossed the boundary of goodness, while recognizing these experiences have shaped the man I am today—broken to be made beautiful. While we forgive, we also need to hold accountable and responsible the criminals who have become leaders.