Art by Jody Noëlle Coughlin
I've been in the states enough to know that even though America generally gets a bad wrap, in person, there is an undercurrent of love and kindness in this country. They may look at you with one eyebrow raised because they think you are weird. It's okay. You are weird. So are they. We all are a little strange. Americans and Canadians are a lot alike. We are neighbors, after all. So, when I read about the bombing of the Boston Marathon, I can tell you, my heart sunk just like everyone else's. I wanted it to be minimal. I wanted there to be nothing to worry about. Then, of course, I heard about the injuries and I realized to at least one person (and, it turns out, many more) this was the worst day of their life. I know I would feel that way if I woke up with my leg in tact and strong and then ended my day with no leg at all. I would truly, truly feel like God, the world, and people in general, had forsaken me. My pain would be personal. You would not know it. You would not feel it. It would be my personal burden.
Flip the coin and we have the other side of the story, the story that emerges like the ripples on a pond. The energy flows outwardly. We take it, move it beyond ourselves, and use it to help others. In other words, I believe mankind is inherently good (this sentiment is also found in this article brought to my attention by my old reporter friend JW). I think this is true. Quite true.
Looking back over this past week, however, I must say that their is a large amount of heinous activity to report on. It's crazy-good business for the media right now. We can read stories of rape, suicide, and an abortion clinic gone totally awry. We now have the bombing in Boston to chew on. We now know there is a mentally disturbed person out there who has a real hatred for marathon runners. It gets overwhelming. But what are you going to do? You the individual? Are you going to let it overtake you? If these moments of nationwide tragedy become your moments of personal anguish, what are you going to do? In this particular story (which I find too painful to examine too deeply) this war veteran has lived, from start to finish, the entire personal experience. He's taking what last bit of control he has left in this world to find peace. He is not fighting. He is conscientiously seeking the light. Peace and maybe something more.
Sometimes I wonder how different we, as a race, would behave if we had some of the questions about the afterlife answered. Are there several stages of hell? Are there more? Is there a heaven? Is there just bumbling around through only the limits of your imagination? I don't know and the truth is you don't know either. But I wish we did know, to an extent. I think when we take these life and death questions into our own minds, there is a huge blind spot in our decision making process. I mean, if we found out that there is a special place in hell (if there is a hell) for people who blow the legs off other people, would there be one or two people who still decided to play out the idea? I think so. I think so because, unfortunately, there seems to be a few people who have no sense of empathy, let alone hindsight, let alone the capacity to feel curious about the afterlife. So yeah. I think that even if we knew that thing about hell and legs there would still be people willing to go the extra mile to ruin their chances at being a decent human being with a promising afterlife. I think the proper punishment for people like that would be a place in hell that is akin to the suffering they've incurred on earth. Then we get into the concept of repentance and forgiveness, which is a long and complicated process sometimes despite the fact that the idea of forgiveness is hailed from just about every pulpit (Jesus died for me. I am forgiven.) This concept doesn't make sense at all unless you understand the metaphysical ramifications--and I don't think many people do. I am not sure if I do either. So, in some respects, the spiritual side of our human existence must enter our minds in order to have an effect on how we behave as people. As a society. We have to examine the consequences of our actions against the backdrop of our spiritual existence. We all end up dead. But we never die. Where do we go?
I, of course, am trying to comfort myself with an abstract thought on the good versus evil debate that has gone on since time immemorial. The basis of human identity is really all tangled up in that one thing. So, this leads to the concept of balance. Now we have Yin and Yang.
I guess my point is that a negative situation usually breeds positive outcomes. Usually, those positive outcomes far out number the negative. So, in essence, we are like blood cells that attack disease. This, of course, could be a reflection of the fact that everything we are, and feel, and do, is connected. We are all one. We are all one being and we, in general, love each other. We love ourselves. We continue on because we believe. We were born to believe. We believe in the greater good because that's where the essence of life resides. Life is power. There is nothing more profound than the joy of a new baby. There is nothing more humbling than our reliance on mother earth. There is nothing more fortifying than a renewal of our spiritual dedication to a higher purpose. Life is a mystery. Or is it?