Have you looked at the news lately? Humanity is struggling with the issue of violence, hatred and revenge, and the results are costly for us all.
All religions teach the importance of peace with one another. For example, Jesus taught his followers to “love one another.” So why is it so difficult to live up to such teachings?
Trying to gain a sense of peace with nothing but the human mind is tough. The painful memories seem to adhere to thought like glue. They claim to define us and to prevent us from moving forwards. We feel stuck in anger and pain, no matter how much we would like to let go of it; and if not dealt with, it can overwhelm our sense of peace and our health. But there is a way forward. It comes when we shift from a purely human and “me and I am right”-focused approach to a stance that seeks to understand and to bless others.
A global movement called the Shift Network highlights this way forwards in a documentary, “Beyond Right and Wrong. ” The hour long movie looks at both the perpetrators and the victims of crime and war around the world, offering thoughtful examples of courageous individuals who have discovered a powerful solvent for the anger and hatred with its ensuing desire for revenge. Building bridges of understanding and love has helped both the perpetrators and those harmed (who might yet seek revenge) find peace, forgiveness and health.
One young woman who lost her father to the IRA bombing of a hotel in Brighton talked of how enraged she felt when Patrick Magee, the perpetrator, was released prematurely from prison under a prisoner release pact. Yet, she asked him to meet her – not to take revenge, but to try to understand. Magee for his part was stunned by her willingness to listen. This jolted him out of defending his actions as politically right, and he began to understand and accept responsibility for the tragedy and enormity of what he had done. The result is that these two found such peace that they now work together to speak to students in universities and schools about the issue of hatred and violent revenge. Her story echoes others, as the growing desire of individual’s on both sides brought about an end to the cycle of hatred, revenge and violence.
German psychiatrist, Dr. Michael Linden, has done extensive work on “Post Traumatic Embitterment Disorder.” His studies show that people with this disorder don’t seek treatment, because of their belief that it is the world, not them, that has to change. And, this sometimes leads them to commit revengeful acts of violence.
However, this documentary shows that in each case the individual who experienced the trauma was willing to change, thus bringing peace for themselves and others. Beyond the violence and anger, deeper than the fear and desire for revenge is the transforming discovery that each of us is deeply, divinely loved.
This is the solvent that brings peace, and a willingness to change. It is universally applicable to all, and in every situation, gently dissolving the stubborn stains of anger and pain. Cultivating this sense of love gives us a sense of belonging and wholeness that heals our pain and fears. You only need a little bit of this universal and powerful solvent. And, it can be applied – and will work – in every situation.
The desire for peace and for changing how we think – even when we are wronged – is health-giving in so many ways. Rather than cultivating the emotions that fuel the desire for revenge, we can gain an authority over them, and thus discover for ourselves this solvent of divine Love that can bring the lasting peace and forgiveness which the entire world needs.
*You can find out more and watch the one hour documentary HERE
This article was first published in the Vancouver Sun HERE