What Lies Beneath

Wisdom and folly both are like meats that are wholesome and unwholesome, and courtly or simple words are like town-made or rustic vessels — both kinds of food may be served in either kind of dish.

The inclination to seek the truth is safer than the presumption which regards unknown things as known.

We sin when we have our loves out of order.

~ All quotes courtesy of St. Augustine of Hippo (last one paraphrased via David Brooks)

Over these past few weeks it feels like once again we’ve been kicked in the gut, bamboozled and sucker-punched. We have been experiencing an assault on our senses that takes extreme discipline and vigilance to filter and sift through, lest we become casualties of a different sort: reacting out of fear, being dragged into a divisive tornado, or simply being unable to function due to the magnitude of it, all of which affect us physically, emotionally and/or mentally. Or we pretend nothing is happening because it’s just too much. We can’t seem to catch a break.

We are interconnected and impacted by each other more than ever; events everywhere are harder to ignore even if we wanted to, as social media only amplifies all that’s happening. On the other hand, there are legions and layers of news — or narratives — that barely, if ever, get to see the light of day from whatever story has hijacked the news cycle. And for a while now, that’s been a revolving door of mass shootings, climate change/extreme weather, police brutality/racism, reproductive rights, domestic and foreign terrorism, refugees, and a Kardashian — interspersed with ads telling us to buy, buy, buy, now, now, now — all having their moments interchangeably ad nauseam. The fear- and war-mongering is relentless.

It’s easy to feel powerless during these times, but we can do our part, as I always say, to “create peace in our piece of the pie.” The first thing you can do is check your own thoughts and perceptions, then consider the source of the information you are receiving, what is behind and underneath what has occurred. Look beyond face value and put yourself on both sides of the equation:

Just because you behaved badly doesn’t mean you are a bad person; perhaps your behavior is controlling you due to an addiction, personality disorder or mental illness.

Just because you are Muslim doesn’t mean you are fundamental extremist, and just because you are a Christian doesn’t mean that you are not.

Just because you are a police officer doesn’t mean you are innocent, and just because you are a poor person of color doesn’t meant that you’re not.

Just because you don’t have an abortion doesn’t mean you are pro-life, and just because you did doesn’t mean that you aren’t.

Just because you were incarcerated for a crime doesn’t mean that you were, or still are, a criminal.

Just because you have a lot of money or a fancy title doesn’t mean you are right, and just because you are poor or uneducated doesn’t mean that you’re not.

Just because a nation has a dictator doesn’t mean it’s entirely evil, and just because a nation’s motto is “the land of the free” doesn’t mean that it entirely is.

Just because you wear baggie pants or a hoodie doesn’t mean you’re a crook; just because you wear a suit and tie doesn’t mean that you’re not.

Just because you don’t believe in climate change because it affects your bottom line doesn’t mean that it isn’t indeed changing and affecting the ocean line.

Just because you produce a slick TV commercial that uses pleasant images and soothing music doesn’t mean you’re selling a product that is benign, helpful or necessary.

Just because there are loud music, bold fonts and special effects doesn’t make a topic urgent; just because something barely makes the news doesn’t mean it isn’t.

Just because you see beauty on the outside doesn’t mean you won’t find ugliness on the inside, or that what you consider unattractive does not possess a beauty within.

Just because you are a talking head on a major media outlet doesn’t mean you know what you are talking about.

Just because you believe in a God doesn’t make you moral, and just because you don’t doesn’t mean you are not.

Just because a picture is worth a thousand words doesn’t mean those words are correct without first knowing the context or the curator.

Just because you are an immigrant or a refugee doesn’t mean you’re a terrorist, and just because you are a citizen doesn’t mean that you’re not.

Just because you read something on the interwebs doesn’t mean it’s true, and then again, it could be the only place to find the truth.

You get the point … (I hope!) The world, and life, has never been black or white, but man, that gray is getting more gray and muddled day by day.

Because what I do for a living is help my clients connect dots, see what isn’t being seen and hear what isn’t being said, and my core belief is that personal transformation is the key to social transformation, I can’t help but apply the same process to these world events. This “client,” let’s call her Gaia, is at crossroads and going through some stuff, all of it resulting in violence, anxiety and disease of one kind or another, and I think the best question to ask is why — what is the common thread of the discontent and imbalance? — and then dig deep beneath the surface, as things are never what they seem or what we are told.

We need to constantly think beyond what is fed to us, to see how things are framed. Who is shaping the narrative and to what end? Who is trying to influence you for what agenda and why? What are we being asked to focus on to distract from what is going on behind the scenes or in another place? We must use our critical faculties. I know this takes work. I know this is not like scrolling through Instagram. I know the truth is sometimes hard to swallow — but as the saying goes, “Know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”

We must fight for our right to understand the story based on truth and facts — but unfortunately it is getting more and more difficult to find unbiased sources for either. Therefore, it’s up to us to get the cobwebs and pixels out of our brains, activate our common and Spidey senses and be our own Sherlock Holmes or CSI crew in order to see beyond the veil, toupee, skin tone, flatscreen and mortgage-backed securities. What is the track record of the message or the messengers? How much is history repeating itself, i.e., same boyfriend, different name?

It’s also up to us to find the clarity first in our own reality and situation, to set the foundation for us to perceive accurately to the best of our ability what is really happening around us — not some twisted, perverted version of what was, is or may become.

Look at the roots in your own life — what is your motivation and how might that have led you to lie to yourself or others to achieve a false objective that shouldn’t be there in the first place, or instead to stray from the course of your most enlightened destiny? What delusions do you use to fool yourself or others into thinking things are okay when they’re not, or instead to create drama when things really are fine?

What is the cost for keeping the peace and what is the cost for going to war in your own life — keeping in mind the best answer will vary depending on the circumstances. Peace is almost universally preferred, although sometimes we have to fight for who we are, for what we love and to protect those very things from those who would destroy them — remembering that it is not always who you think it is.

In other words, analyze the intel of your life and the world carefully. Don’t draw hasty conclusions, and choose your actions wisely. Our humanity, this planet, your life depend on it. Just that.

We are living in precarious times, whether Japanese, Jewish, Communist — oops, I meant Muslim, Mexican, Gay, Black, Poor, Female, Transgender. Who is the real enemy here?

Anger and frustration, sadness and despair won’t get us anywhere; like renewable energy, we must convert these states into constructive use. Emotion is, after all, energy in motion. We can make a positive change to the climate — by generating unity, truth, and justice examined and defined with as much integrity as is possible. If not, then we will continue to be subjected to misinformation, sensationalism and outright lies that incite confusion and fear in a public that can then be controlled even more.

We are stronger than that. We are better than that. And no matter what you do in your personal life, you will not be immune to what is going on around you, especially at this extraordinary time in the evolution of our planet. So what do you do?

When I connect the dots of all that is going on in the world today, I see that the root cause is greed — of money and power. Therefore, the antidote, and something we can all do to counter that is mobilize and recognize our GENEROSITY. Be generous in spirit, in time, money, health, love, compassion, presence and kindness. Let generosity, not greed, be your underlying force — and when looking at others’ actions try to understand them — it will give you much more information and help you separate the wheat from the chaff.

When each one of us takes responsibility to create positivity and not consume negativity, to operate from a place of abundance and unity, we can write our own healthy headlines and make this beautiful world a place we are proud to call home, and be part of a diverse and dynamic family called humanity. Who’s in?

(Today’s essay, which I refer to as a PGG, was originally published on December 8, 2015)

About the Author:

Kristina Leonardi is a career/life coach and motivational speaker who has a proven record of getting “stuck” clients empowered to make lasting changes aligned with their true passions and talents in a short time. She provides a practical framework for each individual to make the most of their personal and professional lives, allowing them to recognize, connect to, and fulfill their role in the world at large and live with clarity, balance and direction. For more information visit www.kristinaleonardi.com or check out her profile on The Muse’s Coach Connect.

Click here to check out Kristina’s book of 131 “thought-provoking, inspirational and entertaining essays to keep you connected to yourself and this journey called Life” Personal Growth Gab (PGG) Volume One from Amazon.

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Read more about me and my work in these past PGG’s:

All Roads, Same Place | And Now, A Word from Our Sponsor | Strong Medicine | 10,000 Hours | Express Yourself

Originally published at kristinaleonardi.com