Imagine that when a person in our community committed an offense, small or large, that instead of punishment and shame as our collective approach to resolution, that we gathered around the individual and only focused on the qualities of being within them that made them known, whole, lovable and loved. What if, as a rule, we only focused on the truth of their being, their essence that vibrates with Love and while it may be buried beneath a pile of woundedness, it must be excavated. The truth of Love must be resurrected so we all may be reminded of our wholeness. What if justice was not a system of revenge, but a system of restoration that restored both the ‘victim’ and ‘villain’ to wholeness.
What if our justice system was based on the premise that each person was essential to our whole and that if one displayed the symptoms of being fractured or broken, that the answer is not to extricate but to illuminate, re-member by reminding them of who they really are. Is it not our hope that all our members of society be whole? How can we reach deeper to see the beauty beneath the pain which initiates one to act out in ways that are painful to others?
As I sat in meditation and contemplation this morning, I remembered an article I read about a tribe in Africa and another indigenous culture of the Native Americans that inspired this train of thought. When someone in their tribe committed an offense, they would bring the person to the center of the town, and the community would surround them and tell stories about this person, reminding them of who they are, the truth of their origins, their goodness, and beauty, the lineage of love. They would re-member them.
Sometimes we drown in the hole of forgetfulness, as we navigate a world that is immersed in the illusion of separation. This isolation from each other, from life, and from the very essence of Self can be deeply detrimental to the mind and heart of anyone. We have been encultured to judge and blame and shame another for behaviors that do not fit our acceptable code of ethics. It is a radical act of self-discipline and unconditional love to respond to abhorrent behaviors with Love and forgiveness. It is literally anti-culture.
Are we not all redeemable? Are we not all born innocent and lovable? I believe that we are born in original virtue and that it is the living of life that teaches us otherwise. I believe it is our life wounds that inform our most unsavory behaviors. I believe that when one lashes out, kills, rapes, steals, cheats, lies, that this is a symptom of a profoundly sick person screaming in pain for help.
We have become a culture that treats only the symptom instead of the cause. When we do this we often suppress the symptom leaving the cause untreated. Yet, the symptom is the red flag, the warning signal to alert you to the fact that something is out of balance. If we suppress or ignore the symptom it must and will find another way to get our attention. For life is resilient and unrelenting in its desire to live and it will keep nudging, prodding and eventually screaming to get our attention so that we tend to the deeper cause of imbalance, dis-ease within the body or mind.
This is not just true of individuals, but also this can be a clear indication of collective disease and unconsciousness when a ‘symptom’ is revealed through the actions of members of our community. This is seen in acts of violence that reflect a collective consciousness like racism, sexism, homophobia. The acts of police brutality particularly displayed against African-Americans is a good example of a symptom of a malignancy within our culture that continues to threaten the moral and physical wellbeing of our collective.
We become mesmerized by the symptom, cutting out the tumor, eradicating or vilifying the perpetrator, and in our conditioned impulse to judge, we fail to discover the root cause so that true healing is possible. We get temporary relief from the symptom as the villain is incarcerated, isolated, and removed from the whole. We feel vindicated as this person serves as an example to the rest of the would-be despots in the hope to deter such intolerable behaviors, only to turn around next week to see a new tumor rear its ugly head to be reckoned with.
The symptom, the tumor, the bad behavior is not our enemy. It comes to wake us up, individually and collectively to the deeper malaise that must be tended to. It is the indicator, and I would even dare to say, it is the gift, the blessing in disguise. Yes, the despot, the disease, the dictator, the deranged, all are symptoms. Could it be that our approach to healing the symptoms has not been very healing, but has only perpetuated the true sickness? Could it be that the very way we handle the convicted, with shame, blame and judgment, is the very energy that triggered the criminal behavior in the first place?
Could it be that this worldwide pandemic is a symptom of a pathology of consciousness that would pollute the air, water and soil to such a damaging extent as to initiate the extinction of not only thousands of species but threaten the very viability of human life on earth? As we clamor to deal with the symptoms of Covid-19 by pouring copious amount of resources into the creation of a vaccine that could potentially introduce more noxious substances into our bodies, we are ignoring, neglecting and suppressing the wisdom of those offering more holistic approaches to disease that strive to treat the inner terrain that may make one more susceptible to adverse reactions to this potentially perilous condition. Doctors, healers, visionaries, scientists, philosophers, activists, parents, ordinary citizens are waking up and being shut up as they question the status quo and the efficacy of our symptom-suppressing approach to addressing life’s challenges.
This theology of treating symptoms and not addressing the cause is deeply rooted in our culture and incredibly complex. It is more than a notion to consider what it might mean to dismantle such an entrenched ideology. I am inspired by the passion, intelligence, and commitment of many who are courageously standing up and sharing their truth as they question the many facets of our society too archaic to mend. Rather, they call forth a vision of a whole new paradigm and begin to weave a new tapestry of reality. Perhaps this new paradigm is both new and ancient, incorporating the wisdom of our indigenous cultures that instinctually knew how to live in harmony with nature, and honoring the soul of each member of their community as a member of their family, worthy of love no matter their offense. A paradigm that harnesses the advancements of modern technologies and evolved wisdom for the betterment of society as a whole. Innovation and creativity abound!
Imagine a world where we remember that we are lovable, loved and that we are Love. A world where we remember the truth of Beauty and Love in ourselves and in each other. A world where our societies are committed to healing the causes of dis-ease in our bodies, minds, and souls, and the society itself. Imagine a world where war and punishment make no sense because we realize that when we war against anything outside of ourselves we are warring against the self. For in this new paradigm of reality we realize that we are all ONE and that your wellbeing, wealth, and health, are also mine.
Therefore to love and forgive another is also an act of self-love, radical self-love. Imagine a world where we are encouraged to practice Unconditional Love, embodying Love regardless of the conditions that show up in our experience. This is a paradigm shift that would enable us to effortlessly remember the other as Love, lovable, and redeemable no matter what the offense. For when I am embodying Love that is unconditional I cannot be offended. For the offense is the condition that reflects the pain of the other, and only if I am offended is it reflecting a pain within me that is being revealed to be healed.
Yes, I know, this is a radical perspective. It renders us all empowered and removes the paradigm of victim and villain. In a time of profound social unrest and division, it can be an unpopular perspective that may trigger defensiveness and justification. I am not trying to take away anyone’s ‘religion’ (way of life or believing). If it serves you then by all means stay where you are. I only pose the possibility and offer a nudge for you to imagine and see how it feels for you to consider a new way.
For me, there is no other way but to imagine a new way and to practice embodying the Love that transforms. I cannot breathe in this old paradigm of separation that demonizes the other and lives in fear of the natural world that surrounds us. I cannot fathom another day of fighting for life. I would rather die so that I can live free of fear, beyond this dimension of form. For I know that we are eternal beings, unlimited Souls of great beauty aligned to a Love that is beyond human cognition. It is my choice to embody this soulful perspective and to imagine into reality a new way, a new day in which I re-member all members of this human family, so they may remember the Truth of their own beauty and the essence of their being.
You, dear ones, are exquisitely beautiful, unique, and magnificent. You are powerful and whole, strong and resilient. You are deeply loved, lovable, and worthy. Indeed, you are LOVE Itself. Know this Truth and the Truth will set you free.