A Belief In Sadness

Posted on 06 November 2014

It’s so easy to believe in sadness. It’s so easy to believe that’s all there is in the world and it’s all that’s important. Because sadness is real and what the world offers as happiness is fake.

So many people have fallen into cynicism and fatalism. They no longer believe in the possibility of close human relations, they no longer believe they have a future.

They act out of anger and frustration. They troll the internet in order to relieve themselves from these feelings. Fight or flight are both fear reactions. Fight just feels more powerful, since you are pushing back at the people who are pushing you. Remember that it is still fear. Some people cross over into physical violence.

Some choose to live lives of extreme experience: damaging themselves, each other, and the world. “You live only once!” In this manner they deepen the problems of the world. They may experience bursts of intense pleasure. But it has no meaning and therefore does not satisfy. They have to seek these bursts again and again and again, in order to not look at what frightens them.

What does it matter, if this is all going to go away tomorrow?

It will not go away tomorrow. You will have to live in tomorrow. How dark do you want that tomorrow to be? How light do you want it to be? Either way, it can’t be as it is now. You either participate in making it better or live with it getting worse.

In the 1830s American Indians living in the south of the US were forced to relocate. Some of these people fought and were killed by US military forces. Some of these people agreed to the genocide march of thousands of miles. My ancestors were among the few survivors of this event. If you were forced to make a choice: die fighting or face almost certain death in a long and torturous journey, which would you choose?

Would you choose to be inflicting death and suffering, just before your own death? Would you live your last moments in one final burst of extreme fear, anger and hatred? Or would you accept being forced to move, knowing that you may very well die on the journey, but at least you get to sing and hold hands with the people you love? Would you choose a few more moments of joy, kindness, and comfort in the midst of the suffering?

With climate change and over-population we are facing very similar decisions right now.

Our culture lies to us through its stories all the time, whether news stories or fictional stories. These stories reflect our culture’s values, not the truth. When our lives do not fit into these stories, it’s very easy to get disillusioned, as opposed to un-illusioned. Suffering is real, but it doesn’t always look and feel as it is portrayed on TV. Love is also real, but real love doesn’t look much like we see it in the movies. Failed romantic liasons are not the same as no love existing. Love is not about enflamed emotions and emotional enslavement. The real thing is much more like a patient friendship.

Do not overvalue the suffering and sadness. Recognise it. Work toward reducing it. Part of reducing it will be about finding honest and healthy expressions of joy, laughter, playfulness, kindness, caring, and the uplifting. Don’t let the big corporations sell you the fake versions, such that you become immune to all that is good in the world. We desperately need the resilience these things can give us. We need to remind ourselves of what we are working toward. We must hold that vision, create what we can of it now, and keep expanding on it. Peace is not simply the absence of war. It’s living a life free from fear and rich in meaning and connection.

Peace and kindness,

Katherine


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