I recently asked myself this question as I read through my Facebook newsfeed. I felt paralyzed by outrage yet again. I stared at posts of one more atrocity and then one more and then.... And, the next thought I had was that human beings are the cruelest species on this planet...My heart ached.
I pondered what motivates me. I see so many people who are fueled by outrage. Their anger pushes them to make change. It gives them purpose. It helps them stay focused on the change they want. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized outrage just doesn't motivate me.
Outrage exhausts me. Outrage depresses me. Outrage paralyzes me.
I see all these posts I'm supposed to be outraged about, and I feel the outrage, but it's fleeting. Mostly I feel incredibly sad about the way human beings treat other Earthlings and the Earth itself. So I asked myself again and again "What motivates you?"
As I meditated over the next few weeks, the question kept returning to me. "What motivates you?"
As I watched more and more atrocities flood my newsfeed and the news and the world around me, I felt a sense of despair. Human beings mistreating fellow human beings. Human beings prioritizing flags over people. Human beings abusing and killing animals just because they could. Human beings killing fellow human beings without remorse. Human beings blaming fellow human beings for circumstances beyond their control. Human beings pitting other human beings against one another. Human beings rewriting history with fantasy instead of facts. Human beings knowingly releasing products harmful to people, animals, and the Earth. Human beings valuing money over people, animals, and the Earth. Human beings spreading misinformation and outright lies to hurt those with whom they disagree. Human beings excusing and even applauding the atrocities committed by other human beings. My heart ached so much I thought I might drown in despair over human cruelty. I felt paralyzed.
Misogyny. Racism. Bigotry. Hate. Violence. Intolerance. Cruelty. Poverty. War. Hate. Hate. Hate.
So much hate.
So much division...
Then one day during my meditation, I experienced such an intense feeling of love that I caught my breath. When I finished my meditation, I finally had the answer to my question. I'm motivated by love. My love for my fellow human beings. My love for animals. My love for this Earth. My love for myself. Just love. The kind of love that transcends the moment and reminds us we can make a difference in the world. The kind of love that connects all living beings and the Earth on which we live.
Later that week, I once again watched Madonna's video Living for Love from her album, Rebel Heart [CD + Bonus CD][Super Deluxe Edition][Ex . I took a moment at the end to read the quote. "Man is the cruelest animal. At tragedies, bullfights, and crucifixions he has so far felt best on earth; and when he invented hell for himself, behold, that was his very heaven." - Friedrich Nietzsche
And, I knew I wasn't alone. I'm not the only one astounded and flummoxed by the sheer cruelty of human beings. And, yet, I still feel more sad than outraged.
Love doesn't ask us to be perfect. Instead love asks us to see beyond our individual selves, beyond our families, beyond our communities, beyond our limited experience, beyond tradition, beyond progress, beyond labels... Love asks us to look into one another's eyes and see the sentience in others as well as ourselves. Love asks us to appreciate the Earth that sustains our lives. Love asks us to put aside pettiness to see where we can be helpful. Love asks us to value the experiences of other people while not devaluing our own. Love asks us to seek common ground even when it's difficult.
Now, I'm not saying I'm perfect. I feel extreme anger toward those who abuse others. Abusers get no sympathy from me, none whatsoever, regardless of their excuses. Those in power who use their power to hurt others damage existence for all of us. Those who callously value money over people, animals, and our Earth, make my skin crawl.
I do feel the outrage. I understand it. I even sometimes embrace it with a relish that scares me. But, it doesn't motivate me. It overwhelms me. It paralyzes me. So I turn my attention to the place where I can offer love, where I can feel love, where I can see love. In a perfect world, I suppose I would find a way to love the perpetrators, too, because hate never heals. But I'm not there yet. I'm truly not.
When I get in mired in my despair over the cruelty of the world, I remind myself over and over of Maya Angelou's words "Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet." Her words help me remember I wish to add to the solution, not the problems.
|Ripples on Sweet Creek in Oregon|
Change must come, so wherever you find your motivation, grab it and go. Say what you need to say. Take action. For me, I'll fall back on love. I'll choose love because love energizes me and gives me a reason to keep moving forward. I choose love because love gives me hope.
I am motivated by Love...