(True Healing . . .)
Yet, in the face of these considerations, I ask myself: how can I expect any of these personal or planetary ills to get better? How am I responsible for any of these things? I’ve found myself hoping that a quick-fix will somehow, miraculously emerge, but then I remind myself—a magic “bullet” or quick fix, can’t make it better. The momentous issues that face an interconnected world require something more, and it can begin with me.
I don’t have to be an Einstein to realize this truth: everything really is interconnected. Recent discoveries in quantum physics prove beyond a doubt that everything is connected to everything else—a fact that evolved spiritual beings have been teaching us for at least a few thousand years.
After years of my own naiveté, I can now relate (a little) to the idea that what I do or don’t do has an effect on the rest of my own body, as well as on everyone and everything else. My simple presence on the planet gives testimony to the rest of creation. This kind of thinking used to boggle my mind, and I felt pretty hopeless, yet as I’m able to bring this realization closer to my heart, I find it quite freeing. I see now that I am a reflection of what we as a species are doing collectively, both good and bad, to each other and the planet.
For instance, when I received a diagnosis of prostate cancer some years ago, I asked myself how I may have been an unwitting party to it. How could this happen to me? Then I took a close, honest look at my life—and I saw how I could have developed a depressed immune system. The signs were there all along. I grew up in a dysfunctional family with lots of violence and alcohol. I have a history of prolonged stressful relationships and poor dietary habits. I was exposed to life-threatening stress and violence as a Marine in Vietnam, and as a police officer. I also had exposure to massive amounts of pesticides, both in Vietnam and as a helicopter spray pilot. It all seemed so “normal” as it happened.
On a planetary level, I can see that cutting down a tree may not be a big deal when considered on its own, but what happens when we clearcut a watershed? We affect a plethora of other beings, and greatly disturb the environment which we all rely on to survive. When I expand this understanding to the level of cutting that occurs in our state, or our nation, or all over our world for generations—then I begin to understand the enormity of the problem. There are a thousand such examples.
Thus I see that I am a reflection of the human race. What we do to each other is a microcosm of what takes place in the planetary macrocosm. If I instigate a personal war, or pollute my personal environment, then so goes the planet.
In a world getting faster by the moment, I wonder how we’ll all manage to keep up, let alone heal up. So many issues—so many needs. Sometimes it breaks my heart. As I write this, I’m reminded of a scene I witnessed while standing in a crowd on a street corner in Kowloon, Hong Kong. I was on R&R leave from Vietnam in early 1966. It was a chilly and windy overcast afternoon. A sudden gust of wind caught some papers nearby and I heard a loud rustling sound. Looking in the direction of the noise to my right I saw a woman huddled cross-legged on the sidewalk pulling a toddler closer to her with one arm and opening her other arm wider so as to enfold it around another four or five year old girl who was struggling to get closer to the warmth of her mother. At the same time she was desperately attempting to keep the wind from blowing away the newspapers she had been using as protec-tion from the chill wind to keep her and her children warm. I was deeply moved and saddened by the scene. I wanted to protect them, to somehow make them safe, yet I didn’t know how to cross the imagined light-years of cultural differ-ences that separated me from them. Before I crossed the street our eyes met, and I pray she understood. Then I headed for the nearest bar—I was there to forget a war.
In Vietnam I saw a land and people devastated by years of armed conflict. As a police officer, I was forced to endure the screams of children as we removed them from the parents that had tortured, beat, and sexually abused them. For such children, a living hell was preferable to the unknown.
Minimally in these situations, some kind of quick fix was being offered. But where is the healing to come from, when conflicts become generational, and “hurt people, hurt people.”