The only point of power any of us have is right now — in this very moment. We cannot change the past, and we do not know the future. But what we do today will determine the future. So, the question becomes, “What can I do today to create the changes I want to see in the world?” The answer to this inquiry is, in my opinion, the most important one we will answer in our lifetimes.
The outcome of all action is determined by the source energy behind the action. That probably doesn’t sound revolutionary to some of you, yet ironically so many of us are acting passionately out of fear and expecting to make a positive difference. Please stop doing that. It isn’t helping.
When someone has a worldview we cannot comprehend, we become fearful. Why? Because the unknown and unknowable scare us. We cannot predict the outcome, and therefore, the impact on our lives. We feel helpless in our inability to grasp something so different from ourselves. We feel powerless to do the one thing we know we must do: protect ourselves, those we love, and the values upon which we base our lives, which for many includes protecting the civil liberties and the well-being of our fellow human beings. So, we react to defend. It is, after all, our most primal impulse to preserve the security and safety of our family. It makes sense. If you think you might be in danger, you act.
The problem with taking action from this place is that fear generates more fear. In fact, this very phenomenon is probably why the 2016 election turned out the way it did. Instead of taking action from a place of gratitude and optimism many of us took action or did nothing because we were afraid of the alternative. And, we watched as the rhetoric that cultivates trepidation grew. Fear and what it breeds — hate — spread like cancer. So, no matter how right and true you feel about your intentions if you act from fear you are contributing to the problem.
Another difficulty with an emotionally-charged knee-jerk reaction is its self-fulfilling nature. We always find what we look for. So, when we position ourselves to protect and defend, we are less likely to see other possibilities. And, when someone senses us defending even if they did not intend to cause harm, they put up their defenses. We become locked in a battle that may have been avoided. We become locked in a battle we, in part, created.
So, what is the alternative? How do we create change for the better without contributing to the problem? We allow the fear to move through us before acting. Spend time getting back in touch with love. It is the only source that will create an outcome that reflects the values of equality, freedom, and true justice. From there, trust your capacity to compassionately and accurately interpret your environment. When danger arises, respond. Instead of creating the problem, we create a solution for all by holding a higher vision and living by the principles we profess. To be clear, I am not advocating for indifference. Act but do it from love.
How do we know the difference? Resistance borne by love is very different from resistance motivated by fear. Fear comes from external sources; it is given to us. And, when fear becomes a tactic to control, it is incumbent upon us to recognize what is happening. Love-motivated resistance comes from within. It is the source of internal guidance. When we allow ourselves to experience love and hold a higher vision, the specifics of how we can contribute to the solution will become clear.
There are practical ways to facilitate moving out of a space of fear before taking action. Here are a few.
Manage exposure to the media. Our consumption of information through social and traditional media is in large part responsible for much of the unrest in the world today. Every time you re-read that terrifying headline, you reinforce an experience of fear. Don’t bury your head in the sand. Instead, actively manage what you listen to and read. And, when you feel fear, stop and allow it to move through you before sharing or posting. From a space of love, it may still be important to share, but give yourself time to know if that is so. Are you spreading fear or calling for action from love?
Stay centered and focused on living the life you intend to live. When we move into crisis thinking, we tend to stop doing the very things that nurture our capacity to have a deeper understanding of the human experience. Purposefully make time to continue such activities as self-care, having fun, and spending time with loved ones. Want to change the world? Find levity and share it.
Exercise empathy in all you do. Empathy can be easily understood with one simple exercise. Can you imagine, had you lived someone else’s life, that you might make the same choices? It’s a trick question, because the best answer you can come up with is, “I don’t know. I can’t know.”
From here, you can look for the innocence in others and recognize that you cannot know what they have lived through. Many experiences that are unknown have brought them to a place that is perhaps incomprehensible to you. It is their suffering to endure. Have compassion and gratitude it is not yours.
When we come from love, we learn to embrace not knowing. We observe and approach today with curiosity, even in the presence of fear. The Tao Te Ching says, “Whoever can see through fear will always be safe.” This implies that fear is an illusion. That there is something truer on the other side.
We are living through a time of historical change. We are living through a time when access to information and social media are culminating in global resistance to unfair systems. The global landscape is evolving at an unprecedented rate. So, for a moment, just imagine the possibility that this is exactly the right outcome to move that resistance forward into a period of real, fundamental change. Do you believe that might be so? Can we act from love with that broader vision in mind? Is it possible that this is the higher truth the fear obscures?
I believe it can’t be any other way. I believe the emergence of the good that illuminates the oneness of humanity is inevitable. As you pause, find the source that compels positive change, and consider the possibility that you have the power to contribute to that outcome by acting boldly in love.
Emily J. Hooks is an author and founder of the Forgiveness Academy. Her first book, The Power of Forgiveness: A Guide to Healing and Wholeness is available in paperback and on Audible.com.