My friend, Carol Smith, wrote the following in response to the attacks on the American embassy in Libya. It’s a profound and powerful message that I’d like to share. I hope you will find it interesting and inspiring. Also, please see the gallery of images from Libyans who believe in much more than blind nationalism and media sensationalism.
Why don’t we love each other more?
Because we don’t love ourselves. We’ve been taught to loathe ourselves by corporations who want to sell us things, by doctors who want to perform plastic surgery on us, by food companies that want us to buy their food, and even by other people who have betrayed our trust and hurt us. We have been taught to hate ourselves because we are simple creatures who have simple needs and we have been preyed upon.
So we can’t or don’t love one another. It’s impossible to love and respect others if you don’t first love and respect yourself. If you spend each day hating the person you are inside, you spend each day looking for an opportunity to participate in a cycle of self-loathing and self-admonishment bolstered by resources from the outside world. Maybe you play games with others of hurting them to feel better about yourself and then apologizing in order to believe you’re not really that kind of person. We lie to ourselves and to others. We construct worlds of hate and dishonesty because we get tangled up in a web of self-destruction to perpetuates itself endlessly.
Maybe religion has helped you along this path. It tells you that you are fallible and that is terrible. It tells you that you are subject to human desires and that is bad.
Maybe your government has helped you along this path. It tells you that you need to hate other countries because they mean to hurt us, they mean to steal things from us, they mean to take us over.
Maybe corporations have helped you along this path. They tell you that you are fat, that you are imperfect, that you are in need of more products to fix your flaws.
Don’t believe them. Start small, but tell yourself that you fine just the way you are. You are different, you are imperfect, you are oddly shaped, and you are scarred. And you are fine just the way you are.
Keep going. Tell yourself that you can love others, that you can stand up to hatred and greed. Tell yourself that you can live simply and honestly. Then do it, as beliefs and actions are one and the same if you make them so.
It’s not hard. Keeping a web of deception about who you really are and what you really want is hard. Living a life of honesty and love is easy if you let it be.
Let the problems and anxiety wash over you as wind, trust your instincts to steer you in the right direction, and speak your mind as honestly as you know how. Be you. There is nobody else that is just like you. We need you in the world, and we love you. Be you and be free.
–Carol Smith, September 13th 2012
My take on all of this: In an increasingly complex and networked world, we need to keep in mind that the system of institutions that allow us to work and feed our families is becoming increasingly interdependent and fragile. The loudest actors and the greatest attacks regretfully receive the most airtime. I pray that we will rise above our limited, frightened psyches and learn to treat those from outside of our tribe as those within. With the possible exception of the 70 million psychopaths living in this world screwing things up for the rest of us for their mere amusement, we all have the same fears, dreams, hopes, and goals. Let us not forget that we are—despite our apparent differences—brothers and sisters in suffering and compassion. May we aspire to and achieve more.