The consciousness of attack is a spiritual disease and it’s killing us.
Every morning when we wake up these days, we can turn on our tablet to see who’s attacking whom. Which country is bombing another country, which politician just attacked another politician, which celebrity just attacked a race of people. The air itself seems saturated with “J’Accuse!” and “Gotcha!” no matter where we turn.
Then people wonder why we all get so depressed.
We are beings of love and we are hardwired to connect, to embrace, to build community. Love is the natural state of our humanity, the stuff of which we were created and essentially remain. The world we live in is so vigilantly counter to our true nature that we are spiritually suffocating, breathing in the toxic air of negativity and fear day after day after day.
The only way we can heal a problem is if we recognize its root. Our society itself is sick, which then causes people within it to be sick; but we call this a “mental health crisis” as though the crisis belongs to the individual alone. In fact, our mental health crisis is not rooted in the individual who experiences it so much as in the society that causes it. The very forces that cause it thrive on it, as in everything from media to politics to human relations there are clicks and dollars and power to be gained from the consciousness of attack and the behavior it produces.
The 20th century was dominated by a mechanistic worldview, where the world was seen as one big machine. Theoretically, if we wanted to change the world we simply had to tweak the pieces of the machine. But in the words of British physicist James Jeans, “It turns out the world is not one big machine. It’s one big thought.” The 21st century is the Age of Consciousness, with a growing realization that thought is the root of every problem, and changing our thoughts is the root of its solution.
There is a principle in A Course in Miracles that “an idea doesn’t leave its source.” The United States has been at war with other countries consistently since WW2. We have been at war in Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War, Iraq, and Afghanistan, blithely and naively assuming that, given the size of our military, we wouldn’t have to worry about war being visited on us. But others haven’t had to visit war upon us; we’ve visited it upon ourselves. We have brought the wars home.
Yesterday’s military equipment now becomes today’s domestic police gear, militarizing our law enforcement agencies. Many police now treat American citizens, particularly black and brown, more like occupiers than peacekeepers. Twitter is a 24 hour battlefield of toxic bombardment. Make any mistake today, and don’t be surprised if someone sues you or puts the video on the internet.
And that’s just what we’re doing to each other! It’s not to even mention what we are doing to the earth.
My God, what are we doing? How long do we think we can survive this constant war on ourselves, on each other, and the planet on which we live?
Years ago, a gentleman who is now passed named Robert Plath began something called “Forgiveness Day.” It seemed like such a sweet, spiritual exercise and every year when Bob called me to participate I would say “Sure, Bob!” He would hold an event in California at which a few people would speak, knowing full well of course that we were simply planting seeds that would take a long time to bear fruit.
Now I can’t imagine our species surviving unless we decide to make every day Forgiveness Day. Yes, I understand how much money is to be made from gratuitous violence in song lyrics, TV and movie plots. Yes, I understand how much money is to be made by sexualizing violence. Yes, I understand how much money is to be made by funding a military establishment far beyond what’s needed to guarantee our security. And yes, I understand our urge to attack when we feel we’ve been wronged; I’m as emotionally prey to that as is anyone. But we cannot continue this way; our collective behavioral patterns of attack and defense are literally maladaptive for our survival as a species. We will spiritually mutate – we will evolve beyond them – or we could literally go extinct.
On any given day, there is something that each of us can do to solve this. At the very least, we can try to lean in to greater gentleness. We can refuse to participate in the ways of violence, either active or passive. We can forgive who we have not forgiven; we can ask forgiveness from anyone who needs to hear it; and we can commit to a level of harmlessness beyond what we practiced yesterday. Our mental and emotional attachment to the consciousness of attack, to the adrenaline it produces, is in fact an inner demon inside us all. But we can listen to our hearts … let it go … surrender it to God.
Jeans was right; the world is one big thought, and any thought that any of us think leads either to the purification or further toxicity of our society. Every instant, consciously or unconsciously, we make a choice whether to help heal or further destroy the world. To bless is far more powerful than to blame. “Namaste” as an operating principle is so much better, and ultimately more survivable for all us, than “Fuck you.”