While I would prefer to avoid the news of the day, co-hosting “Above The Fray” podcast twice a week and writing to this blog requires that I keep up on what’s happening, which includes not only reading news sites and other blog posts but also the comments that accompany them. The comments give insight into what the readers are thinking but also into what the manipulators are orchestrating.
Lately both the news, and the comments that accompany it, have become disturbing for two reasons: extreme intolerance and escalating hate. Both should be an alarm of sorts…warning us that something, or someone, is fueling the flames of conflict and division. We had better be alert to where it will lead and what precipitous actions we may be deliberately manipulated into taking out of fear.
It’s probably safe to say there are very few people who do not sense impending trouble. While no one is certain whether it will be by way of the economy, terror, war or natural disaster… something is definitely brewing. As with the onset of a storm, it’s as visceral as rapidly dropping barometric pressure. We feel it… without knowing what the it is.
“It” has many disguises but only one name: Evil.
In Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism, it is taught that Satan is nothing more than doubt. Doubt that God exists. Doubt that God is good. Doubt in the healing, uniting and miraculous power of the Divine. For once you doubt God, your world becomes a breeding ground for evil. In a world of duality, in the absence of “good (read “God”) a space is created in which its opposite “evil” (read Satan”) can occupy.
I’m not saying that simply believing in God is the way to oppose a market crash, ISIL, war or an earthquake. What I am saying is that when you believe in a powerful, loving and engaged force, God, you tend to live more in joy than in fear. So that when a crisis arises, you are in a better mental and emotional state to be pro-active rather than being fearfully re-active.
Now, while I’m not sure how Gandhi did it with the British Empire, I have seen it work.
I once knew an Orthodox Rabbi from New York who was perpetually happy. He had the spirit of a playful child. He commuted two weekends a month by bus from New York to Southern New Jersey to officiate Sabbath ceremonies for a small Jewish community. He usually took a return bus to New York late Saturday night after the Sabbath ended which got him into the City after dark. He would then walk to his apartment several blocks away from the bus station.
One evening, as he began to walk home from the station, a gang of black youths began to follow him. The further he walked the more they gained speed until they caught up and surrounded him. They began to taunt him, making fun of his attire and his beard. True to his spirit, he remained joyful and smiling no matter what they said to him. Finally, one of the gang members pulled out a knife. It was pretty clear what their intentions were. But at that moment, when almost anyone else might have been terrified, the Rabbi began to sing and dance, trying to engage one of the gang members to dance with him! The youths were so incredulous that when one of them said, “This guy is crazy! Let’s get out of here” they all ran.
The Rabbi wasn’t crazy. Nor was he acting. He was living his life as he always did, joyful in his faith in God. The youths, who lived lives absent God, knew only how to have a fearful reaction. Perhaps the story is the microcosm of what Gandhi was able to do in the macrocosm. I’m not certain.
But if trouble is on the horizon, in whatever form, we would be wise to hold fast to belief and trust in the invincibility of faith over doubt, good over evil, and God over the forces that inhabit our world when we fail to remember where we came from, who we are, why we are here and who, precisely, has your back.