"The ways of truth and love have always won". Gandhi
" We need a systematic approach to foster humanistic values, of oneness and harmony. If we start doing it now, there is hope that this century will be different from the previous one. It is in everybody's interest. So let us work for peace within our families and society, and not expect help from God, Buddha or the governments." Dalai Lama
It's been hard this last few weeks to have the words to describe the myriad of emotions that have affected me. In some ways I envy those who purport to have certainty in what should be done to respond to the terrorism we see affecting so much of our world. And of course it had an impact on me because as a European, terror came very close to home.
I have no easy answers to share, no wise idioms to make it all ok. I understand some the complexity of the factors that have brought us to where we are now; I know that we in the UK have played our own role in that, like so many others in the West. I know too that some powerful global companies, not least the arms traders will always benefit from war.
I see the hypocrisy of our relationships in the Middle East. We have all played our part in creating the monster of the so-called IS. And it's monstrous behaviour is hard to believe. This film from channel 4 news shockingly shows its behaviour within Syria towards children http://www.channel4.com/news/syria-children-of-the-caliphate-isis-amputation-evan-williams. And we wonder why there is a tide of humanity washing across Europe?
But still I'm reminded of how compassion and care for others can transform the human experience. How even where people have witnessed the unimaginable, the impact of nurture, safety and the love of strangers can bring life back into eyes and an inner flourishing that was previously unimaginable. I hope that is already happening for the refugees who arrived in Scotland last week.
Sadly last week we also witnessed those who welcomed the Syrian refugees to our country this week, themselves attacked by disgusting racism. The shameful anti-Muslim behaviour we have seen here in Scotland and more widely is to be deplored and we should all challenge it wherever we see it. What has led us to this?
Our focus on individuality in recent times has impacted on empathy and compassion but what I do know is we can change that again. We can learn to be more compassionate, to show more empathy, to understand that through care and connection we can all thrive given the right conditions. We can learn that what helps a community flourish is not self-interest but it's investing in what helps everyone thrive. And for those of you who fear we are too far gone to be different let's remember that even where it seems evil behaviours have triumphed, there will always be the signs of goodness too.
Out of the devastation of the Second World War, the welfare state emerged. It took only 10 days after Hiroshima was flattened by the A bomb for flowers to grow. Cumbria in a different way seemed forever changed after the foot and mouth disease a few years ago,but the lack of sheep grazing meant the flowers bloomed again and the ospreys returned. We are programmed to flower, to bloom in the right conditions. We can flourish as a community if we create the right conditions. But a flourishing community or country is not one that turns against others, it's one that shows love and compassion to others, especially when they are vulnerable. The best way to challenge the profoundly immoral is to demonstrate moral courage.
I started this blog owning my sense of powerlessness and distress given the recent events. But I also know that change can only start with ourselves. One person at a time we can change how we are in the world. So ultimately we hold the difference -each and everyone of us-not powerless after all.