By Kathy Harwood Long
In January, I began reaching out to you with the intent to address suffering in our society with a specific focus: families. I believe it is Ram Dass, an American spiritual leader, who said, ‘If you think you are spiritually enlightened, visit your family.’
Families are our first learning ground, and from this ‘ground of being,’ we can grow an understanding of love in relationships at every stage of life. Family relationships, though, may also grow our first experiences of suffering.
Imagine if the angry six-year-old who recently shot his teacher had been given a generative model at home and in our society to understand how to work with his life power and anger. The power of the universe is the power that is creating us to be; it is designed for life and living constructively, not destructively. Our shock and despair and increasing compassion for children and families can be channeled intentionally in greater alignment with the design of the universe to thrive. Let’s learn how to do this!
Arun Gandhi, in his book The Gift of Anger, addresses our energy caught in the suffering of families and societal models of violence. He quotes his grandfather Mahatma Gandhi: “When we channel electricity intelligently, we can use it to improve our lives, but if we abuse it, we could die. So as with electricity, we must learn to use anger wisely for the good of humanity.”
Anger, love, thoughts, emotions–all are energy and, like electricity, our power to harness for the growing of self and our families. This power in all life is often called God, Allah, higher power, universal presence, and principle. By any name or no name, our connection to power is obvious, even though our understanding of working with all this power may be immature.
Examples of harnessing power constructively for the good of all are everywhere present, with trees being my favorite. I recall standing tall, rooted in love, when my child melted into a tantrum state on the floor of a grocery store. Like trees, I was connected to those sharing ideas and encouragement for practicing love vs. punishment. I did not succumb to my begging, howling son that day and therefore did not abandon him or myself. Instead, the power of love strengthened us for the journey ahead, the teen years, and beyond!
Years ago, I adopted Ram Dass’ mantram, “I am loving awareness,” which can flow through me like the sap of new life rising as I listen to family members suffering, raging, and blaming. Life on the planet is stormy, messy, and fiery– like families–yet you and I can thrive. We are never separate from the power to live and be a healing model in our families. Let’s harness the energy of fear, anger, and despair–our power to love and heal. Together let’s reach out to each other and, rooted in the spiritual power of love, commit to generating family healing for a healthy now.
Written by Kathy Harwood Long, mother, minister, www.friendsofunity.org