“In the shamanic world, what you went through is preparation for living a different kind of life, and that kind of life can be had when one is ready to view one’s life as a journey of the utmost importance.”
Chuck spoke these words to me when I was in the midst of recapitulating my childhood sexual abuse. They were transformative words, words of light in the midst of deep personal agony, for they focused me on the intent of my journey through this life. Why am I here? What am I supposed to learn about myself? What is the greater meaning of all that happens in this world? Once again, these words rang through me as I contemplated what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School last week.
I believe that we are all on journeys of the utmost importance, whether our lives are long and fulfilling or cut short. So, what are we to make of the senseless shootings at Sandy Hook? What meaning can we find in that tragedy, in the deaths of so many young children and the educators who dedicated their lives to engaging and teaching the youngest members of our society, a most important job?
We must face ourselves. We must face the world we have created. We must take this senseless act as a final wake up call and we must not go back to sleep. We must all take a journey of the utmost importance now and change ourselves and our country.
We must allow ourselves to feel every aspect of this most horrific act of violence, really feel it, and be guided now along a new path. We must all partake in creating a new society, not one based on fear as we did after 9/11, but one based on compassion and caring for all living things.
We must not wipe the tears from our eyes and then go out and buy more guns to protect ourselves, arm teachers and bus drivers, as has been suggested. Had I been a gun owner I would have wept and then immediately destroyed my guns. Why is this not happening? Why do we still contend that to be armed is our right and our need? It’s not a need at all, it’s a contention based on fear. And so we must ask ourselves what we fear and why?
In countries where there are few guns, in places where even the police don’t carry guns, there are few shooting deaths as well. It’s a no-brainer. But here, in a society rampant with greed, we have become like complacent animals. Locked in our cages, we are fed more pills, more food, more poisons, than we can possibly need. So drugged are we by the ideas that we need more things, more protection, more guns, that our brains have numbed. We are no longer capable of independent thinking, feeling, and action. We are mere cattle crowded into feedlots, long ago having forgotten that we are free beings, on journeys of the utmost importance.
In the wake of this tragedy, it’s time to wake up and stay awake, to take up not guns but a new weapon called compassionate change that is based on what is universally right for all living beings. Are we a nation of killers, or are we a nation of good, of kindness, compassion, and love?
Change happens slowly and it also happens in an instant, as the shootings at Sandy Hook show us so clearly. If we are truly on journeys of the utmost importance, it’s up to each one of us to take up the cause of personal change now—right now—to instantly turn away from violence, hatred, fear, and instead become truly caring beings. But we can only do this by facing our own deepest fears, by challenging ourselves to stay awake and really confront what lies at our deepest core, to question what is holding us back from becoming the truly amazing and loving beings that we are meant to be.
The shots at Sandy Hook were heard around the world. And now the rest of the world is waiting to see what we will do in the wake of so many truths so loudly declared, that is: that guns kill; that we had regressed into an angry, entitled, fearful nation; that we are no longer the shining star to look up to for guidance. How many times must we make the same mistakes? How many wake up calls do we need?
We must all face what we have become and take full responsibility for not only where we now find ourselves—those overfed cattle in the feedlots—but for our own thoughts, actions, and deeds as well. In our complacency we’ve let a lot of things happen, but now we are being rallied to really change, and to change drastically. If we are truthful, we will look at our world with open eyes and truly see that there is so much that is going in the wrong direction, and that each one of us has a duty to get on the bandwagon of change, in whatever way we can, and turn it in a new direction. But first, as I said, we must begin by changing ourselves. We must investigate our own attitudes, fears, and prejudices by asking ourselves why we feel so entitled, and why we continue to fear, judge, and criticize others rather than face ourselves.
Do we have to face yet more jolting wake up calls? Or can we take up a new cause now and take our journeys of the utmost importance in a new direction, to a higher level of conscious awareness and action so that those who died last week—those who gave us this most frightening wake up call—will not have died in vain. Let their journeys be considered journeys of the utmost importance by truly taking action to change ourselves and our country, and show the world that what lies in our hearts is what now leads us forward.