Dr. Linda Steiner, The Power of Social Consciousness, Oct. 2, 2014, http://drlinsteiner.wordpress.com/2014/10/02/having-our-cake-and-beating-it-too/
Since my article entitled “The Fear Factory: The Manufacturing of a Violent Society” posted in September of 2013, the blood-soaked saga has continued to flourish – along with the steady media diet of gloom and doom. The tragedies du jour include the Ebola Virus, new threats of terrorism, and police violence.
It seems there is no deficit of boogie-men to fear – lurking under our beds – ready to attack at a moment’s notice. There also appears to be no deficit of public denial, indifference, apathy, self-centeredness and – oh, let’s not forget – perceptions of helplessness and fear.
For those readers interested in changing the world for the better in a concrete way – where do we begin? When going up against such seemingly insurmountable obstacles – how can we possibly measure up? Many kind-hearted, well intentioned souls choose their battles out of the plethora of available injustices that abound. The war on drugs, the fight against cancer, racism, sexism, global warming, poverty, unemployment, corporate and governmental corruption and the list goes on and on and on.
But to my mind – these factions of focus, albeit worthy causes, represent nothing more than a divide and conquer strategy that undermines the true power of our social and collective consciousness – wherein lies the key.
Facing the Contradictions
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once stated that, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” And this sentiment is at the core of the perspective I am bringing to light. Can we reasonably expect to win a specific battle against injustice in one targeted domain while engaging in acts that reflect the very nature of that injustice?
During a recent discussion with a friend, she was passionately espousing the necessity of white Americans to take ownership of their actions against the Native American people. She was arguing that white Americans are “settlers” on U.S. soil. That through willful acts of violence and deceit, white ancestors robbed the Native people of their rightful place. And while I fully acknowledge the brutal injustices that occurred, and continue to occur, something else occurred to me as well. That perhaps this friend – as well intentioned as she may be – might be eating chicken for dinner. A chicken that was born, raised and slaughtered under brutal, inhumane conditions.
In mentioning this to her – she argued that animals don’t hold the same “status” as humans and, while the inhumane treatment of animals is objectionable, her foremost concern lies with injustices to humanity and that she has to “pick her battles”. Now my friend is similar to many others, who draw lines of distinction in the value of life. And it is precisely this type of mindset that the white settlers utilized to justify their violent injustices toward the Native people in the first place.
From slavery, to abuses against women world wide – people have had a ritual pattern of “dehumanizing” others prior to subjugating them to abuse. To the Nazis – Jews were heathens. To the slave masters – Africans were sub-human. To the white settlers – Native Americans were savages. And to carnivorous humans – animals are simply livestock – resources devoid of intellect, emotion, soul and, therefore, equal rights.
Justice as a Wheel – Not a Scale
When we view justice as a scale – we struggle to find a balance. This effort lends itself to endless acts of negative reciprocity. An eye for an eye. Give and take. And the pendulum swings on. But if we view justice as a wheel – we begin to recognize that the hub represents the oneness of creation from which each spoke emanates outward – enclosed by the outer rim that houses our interactions with and toward one another.
Drawing on this analogy, if each spoke represents a different aspect of social injustice – racism, sexism, poverty, terrorism, etc., and we focus our attention and efforts on only one spoke at the exclusion of others – we ultimately fail. We fail because we lose sight of the fact that all spokes are connected. As we exert pressure against one of the spokes – at the exclusion of the others – the wheel grinds to a standstill.
We must focus on the hub – not the spokes. We must bring into focus the big picture – not merely the segments. The title of this site is The Power of Social Consciousness. And if our power lies in our collective consciousness – our efforts become weakened when splintered off in numerous directions.
There is only one direction – Unconditional Love – the one, single and universal principle that is all encompassing. This means that no conditions, or preferential treatment at the exclusion of others, is possible. We can not advocate for an end to violence and then entertain ourselves with violent television programs. We can not become outraged at racism and then cut off another driver on the freeway. We can not support campaigns to end child abuse or domestic violence and then mindlessly scarf down a Big Mac at McDonald’s on our way home from work – denying the brutality of industrial farming.
All for One – And One for All
Perhaps the road to positive change in the world doesn’t rest in our endless struggle against each individual form of injustice. Perhaps, it’s as simple as broadening our conscious awareness to include all thoughts, all feelings and all behaviors toward a single alignment with Unconditional Love. In all situations, circumstances – big and small – align with energy that is Loving. Period. The rest will take care of itself.
To the extent that our thoughts are fragmented – so too, will be our effectiveness. If we were to all focus our thoughts – with laser precision – on Unconditional Love in every Now moment – the transformation we so desperately seek would organically manifest. Remember, “We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.” (Buddha). So what have we got to lose? Isn’t it worth a try? Are we capable of purging the hypocrisies and contradictions that permeate our lives?
As Albert Schweitzer once stated, “until he extends the circle of his compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace”. And so it goes…we simply can not have our cake – and beat it too.