Sing a hymn to life. Sing “Thank you life. Thank you for your beauty, diversity, multiplicity, intelligence, richness, as well as for all your challenges and possibilities”. Sing and see while you sing whether you can begin to feel more of what you praise over time.
You want to tell me that there are too many things in life that go wrong, so you can hardly say thank you? People are discriminated and murdered because of skin color, class membership, opinions, origin etc. Corona virus kills so many. People are lied to, betrayed, exploited, killed, tortured, chained. People starve while we are living in abundance. How can I sing a hymn to life? How can I be thankful for that?
Oh, if you knew … But you, unfortunately, have to understand it for yourself and find out first. I can’t force anything on you, nor do I want to convince you…
And yet, if you can sing a hymn to life, please do it. Use this short time for something that really can change this prison-world of human mind, instead of complaining, whining, intriguing, speculating, and beating around you.
Not long ago I walked and talked with someone about racism. It was, of course, in connection with the death of George Floyd and the demonstrations that took place for this reason.
At first it was said, that for example some simple legislative changes could help many people in Africa. One could help with simple laws people who are starving to death, who are prevented in their countries from earning a living on their own, who are prevented from being an equal part of this world. We talked about how one could regulate racism and all possible discrimination in this world with laws and reforms from outside. This was followed by wondering about this world, and even a kind of anger at those powerful people, who have no interest in the fact that so many people cannot live in dignified circumstances, or are discriminated, although the opposite is possible.
And then the feeling of powerlessness came. Anger and powerlessness because we cannot do much against the “strong and powerful” of this world, right now there where we are. And then it became clear to us that we were wasting our time complaining, moaning, feeling outraged, frustrated and angry. We didn’t even notice all the people and the beautiful nature that we met on our walk.
Frustration, powerlessness, impotence or anger are natural feelings when you will go further with the mind than the body actually can. It is natural that those feelings arise, when you oppose the reality, when you oppose the facts with the mind, but cannot put your thinking into action, when ideas come up in your head that cannot be carried out there where you are, when you are sitting here with all the clever solutions, while the seemingly powerful men do whatever they want. You are far away from reality of the present moment at those moments, and blind to what really IS possible.
It is of great value to recognize that opposing the reality will always be frustrating and painful. Moreover it is not intelligent and a great waste of time. Only more negativity can be accumulated in you in this way. Nothing good comes out of it but more frustration.
It is much wiser to realize that right now you cannot do anything, so that laws will be changed, so that people don’t kill each other, so that they don’t starve. If you are not already in an organization that works active against discrimination, racism, exploitation, violence, but are simply on your walk in the middle of Denmark, far away from people in Syria or Africa, who are dying right now due to human ignorance – then these are the facts. If there cannot be a demonstration in your town, you can only waste your precious energy with frustration about it. Or you can waste your time with more reading about it, thinking, speculating, Facebook-posting and liking. You can raise yourself and complain, but it will not do anything constructive.
It will not change anything. It just shows, that you are not accepting the reality as it is, that you are opposing it, wasting time, not seeing where you really are, but living in stories, concepts, speculations.
Reality is that your body is here, but you are absent. Reality shows you, that it is not meant for you right now to be in Africa but in Denmark, Germany, England, Polen, and that you right now cannot change the laws, take part in demonstrations, tell Donald Trump your opinion, help people in Syrien. And therefore thinking, talking and complaining about all these facts is useless.
Moreover – speculating and complaining completely blinds you to the beauty of this world, to the actual reality around you as well as to what you actually CAN do against discrimination, racism, violence, misanthropy. Every single day. The fact is, that you CAN do something. You can do a lot instead of hanging around on Facebook posting hashtags or being upset because of your apparent powerlessness.
One thing is to be informed about what is happening in the world. Nothing wrong about it. Yet another thing is to waste energy with speculating and complaining about things one cannot change with one great action right now. Maybe one day you will get the possibility of a great, decisive action, maybe not. In the meantime, it is worth considering whether such one, great, world-wide decisive action and decision is the only way out, or the only way to actively take action against discrimination, misanthropy, racism and evil.
I am sure it is not, but to reflect on it is definitely something you can do here and now. Without frustration, without ignoring that what happens in the world, and where you are not right now, but also without moving away from the reality of things that are exactly there where you are right now.
And with reflecting I don’t mean speculating and complaining, but observing and responding to what you meet in your everyday-life.
That is namely where you are, where the reality is. In your everyday-life. At your home, there where you work, walk, eat, go shopping…. And – whether you have already figured it out for yourself or not – the roots of the tragedy and the annihilation in the world lie exactly there, in your home, in your immediate environment, in you, in your everyday behavior, your reactions to everything that you actually encounter. This is the sad truth.
Yet in order to be able to recognize this, you must first come out of your restless, complaining, speculating mind, that mostly is far away from where you are. So the first thing is to come back to reality of yourself and that what is around you. This alone is impossible for the most people in this world.
But for those for whom it becomes possible, the first step to actively contribute to a fundamental constructive change in this world is to be there where they are, not on Facebook, Twitter, in their heads, but where they are – at work, at home, on the street, in the supermarket.
If you can open your eyes and REALLY look, you will for the first come to see the beauty of this world. See the beauty of your environment, of the objects, of all living beings and also of people. You will come to see their diversity, their faces, their movements. You will see the greatness of their uniqueness. See the divine richness and variety.
And so, instead of polluting your mind with more thoughts, noise, frustration, hate, anger, you start to clean it up first by looking at the world with all what it contains. Animals, plants, things, people. Look at everything before you open your mouth and start to follow your thoughts.
And then move like this through the world in which you really live, in which your body-mind is, not in the one that is shown to you in the media, not in the one that only exists as images in your head or on social media. Not in the images you have of Africa, Syria, Amerika, violence, hatred, demonstrations far away from where you are.
Moving like this, living like this, in all the openness, sensitivity and perceptibility, you will easily encounter situations where the basis for hatred, violence, discrimination is laid. Where people talk about and act slightly neglectfully towards foreigners or others unwelcomed, discriminated groups. Calling them funny names, calling them “they” and making a distinction between “them” and “us”. Talking about their lack of manners, laughing at them. It can be your own wife and children, or colleagues at work, or somebody on the street.
Usually you don’t say anything or don’t do much while listening to such hidden, more subtle discrimination and evil. Your own security, comfort, politeness or conflict-averse let you remain inactive in face of such small, apparently harmless happenings. You don’t want to have any conflicts with your colleagues, with your boss. You remain silent when someone laughs at an well-known local alcoholic. Or when you see the hostile looks that the bus passengers send to Arab refugees. Or hear, that someone next to you says that it was a good idea to close the borders so that no more culturally diverse foreigners and refugees come in, because they are so different than “us”. I don’t know if you are able to notice anything like that. Most people are only present with the body anyway and otherwise completely occupied with the content of the stories spun in the head.
But it is exactly in those situations, where you can make a difference, where you can say something, do something, shed light on human ignorance and arrogance. Or maybe you actually think the same? You are upset about discrimination and racism on Facebook, but in your everyday life you want to keep a good distance between yourself and “the others”. Maybe you even feel disturbed by their appearance and otherness, even threatened in your comfort cocoon? Tell me, how many immigrants and refugees do you know really well? How is your daily relationship to the exposed, discriminated, to the different, to the unpleasantly striking of this world?
In my workplace I am constantly confronted with subtle xenophobia, misanthropy, ignorance, arrogance, nationalism, racism, discrimination.
Many of my colleagues talk daily subtly disparaging and pejorative about the foreign students, their language, manners, clothing, inabilities. Not that they are politically very incorrect, but what they say and how they say it reveals their thinking, labeling of those they talk about, their disapproval, arrogance, and especially lack of true connection with these “others”, the isolation which is the cause of all conflicts, wars and suffering. On the other hand many of my own students hate or fear Denmark, the country in which they were seeking security from war, and in which they feel unwanted and discriminated. And they too isolate themselves from the Danish citizens.
It is an interesting balancing act to be confronted with both groups, and to observe my own reactions, not reactions as well as responses, which arise from my own presence and observation. I do not know whether what I say and do can form waves of insight that will be carried on in the world. Nonetheless, this is where life has brought me, in exactly such situations, and here is my field of action, where I can either contribute to hardening of the prejudices and discrimination or to opening, relaxation and more understanding.
We all can contribute to more understanding and love in this world. Not through complaining and making the war either in real on social media. Not through seeking scapegoats, and becoming frustrated about the world and the evil perpetrators, we cannot punish or stop right now. But through opening our own and the other’s eyes to the beauty of diversity of this life, through becoming grateful for the gift of multiplicity of life, we have received, through singing hymns to life in its all forms, through being present, alert and watchful there where we are, finally through acting against hate and discrimination in saying no, where our own and other’s arrogance, security and comfort seeking seems to crawl in, covering the possibility of mutual love, understanding and connectedness.
What is your field of action? And how do you relate to the daily, subtle acts of discrimination and hatred? What are you saying? What are you doing in such situations? Are you there at all? Singing your hymn to Life for all those who still cannot see the beauty of its diversity? But it is exactly by seeing this beauty, where true love begins and discrimination, hatred and evil evaporate.