If you are not part of the solution …you are part of the problem!
What was it all about?' the young man asked me as he fixed my laptop in my cottage. He was talking about the 'troubles.'
Early twenties knew nothing and I had a golden opportunity to blame and God knows there were plenty of people I did, could and wanted to blame.
'Long story,' I replied…. 'And no matter where you come from you will have a different angle on it.'
'Don't understand any of it,' he continued, 'like why did people join the IRA? Were they and Sinn Fein always the same thing? Are the RUC and the PSNI the same thing? What about the loyalists, were they really funded by the British Government? And Unionists - did they really think they could control everything forever?'
'Thought you knew nothing,' I replied.
'Who was to blame? He then asked, and looked at me like a young deer caught in headlights - waiting for me to answer a question….. As if it was that simple.
'If we start to blame then we are back to the beginning,' I said.
'But someone is to blame,' he insisted.
'Of course you will always find someone to blame in any situation if you look into it long enough; which only leaves you avoiding your own wounds because if you are blaming you are wounded,' I replied.
'Ok,' he said - 'who do you blame?'
Jesus, I thought, I only want you to get the laptop sorted so I can send in my column to the paper.
'No one,' I replied.
'Of course you blame someone,' he continued - 'didn't you write a book about it?'
'The book is not about blame,' I said, 'it's a story about what happened to me and how I came through it, letting go of the blame in the process.'
'What happened to you?' he continued.
'Read the book,' I answered then asked, 'Would you like a cup of tea or coffee?' so I could change the subject.
'No,' he replied, 'but can I have a copy of your book?'
'Ok,' I answered, 'and if you find any blame in it get back to me as there is no healing in blaming. I'm into healing myself not blaming others.'
'How could you not blame?' he then asked - 'I blame so many people for so many things - simple things,' he continued. 'I am sure they are not as big as yours but they hurt.'
'If you are hurting,' I said, 'then there is nothing simple about it, there is no simple hurt; but remember you are hurting yourself and no one else when you concentrate on the perpetrator and not the wound.'
'But it is so difficult not to, I get so angry at times.'
'Then let the anger up….. Without the blame.'
'How the hell could you do that? - I keep remembering the incidents.'
'Focus on the pain not the memories, there is nothing you can do about the memories as they are from the past but there is something you can do about the pain as it is in the present….The memories are creating your anger which creates pain. Let go of the anger and with it the memories are easier to deal with…. you may even get to a point where you understand that the perpetrator was also angry and in pain!'
'But nothing,' I said - 'talk to someone about what happened to you, tell your story, write it down then let it go…let it go in whatever way feels right for you, then focus on the residue it has left in your body - the pain.'
'Did you feel better when you wrote it?'
'I had written out more than a book of anger before this book but no one wants to read bitterness. We all have to move on with our lessons.'
'What do you mean lessons?' he asked sharply. 'Do you think I needed to be taught a lesson in this - I was only a child?'
'I was only a child too,' I said, 'but they were the greatest lessons I have ever learned.'
'And what did you learn?' he asked.
'Forgiveness, the fact that this was part of my journey. I learned to let it go and move on, I had to go there to get here - I am who I am because of what I went though'
'That's a copout,' he said.
'Maybe it is,' I replied, 'but it's worked. When I started to concentrate on me, how it was affecting every day of my life then I had no choice but to do something, to let go of the blame and concentrate on the healing.'
'Did you not want to hurt them - want an apology for whatever they did to you?'
'In my mind I have battered them to death…. an apology would be nice but highly unlikely; but if I go down that road then I hand all my power over to someone else and take the focus off my healing…. as I did for years. I had so much bitterness that it poisoned my every thought!'
'Was it that easy…to let go?'
'I never said it was easy but….. I knew from the moment that I started to concentrate on me that it was working but it was a long road. I still deal with it when it comes up.'
'And does it still come up even if you have dealt with it?' he asked.
'Yes… sometimes it is triggered… but it gets easier when you keep the focus on yourself, on the now. When you do this, forgiveness is not something that you do, it is something that happens.'
'What triggers it most?'
'All kinds of things,' I said.
'What kinds of things?' he asked.
Having to justify my hurt even though I had no physical scars I thought, and could feel a lump in my throat, he had got to me. I wanted to cry, I am only human and there are things that still hurt deeply.
'You don't have to say,' he continued breaking my thoughts and realising he had triggered something.
'I know,' I replied, 'but I will - the things that hurt the most, the things that I am dealing with now are that others think my pain does not count.'
'What do you mean?' he asked.
'Some think that pain comes only from physical wounds, if they can't be seen then they don't exist, Others think that wounds are deeper because they were inflicted by illegal organisations - that wounds inflicted by the legal security forces don't count as they had a legitimate government behind them!'
'Like mine,' he said.
'Yes,' I replied.
'Like the church here,' he said.
'Yes, a church with a government behind it, we are now watching our people being drugged to ease their pain - legal drugs whilst there is a war waged against illegal drugs! Guns are guns - drugs are drugs, just because someone has a licence to use or prescribe something doesn't necessarily mean it is not abused! We are a wounded people on both sides of the border but we still have to put the focus back on ourselves, take responsibility for our own healing.'
'But what can we do if our governments are corrupt, if we do not have the power to change them, what can we do to make a difference?' he asked
'You can't make a difference to anyone until you make it within yourself. I replied. 'You can rant, rave, complain and criticise everyday of your life but until you sort out your own wounds you cannot see past them to do anything.'
'But our politicians have to do something,' he said.
'Whilst you do nothing!' I replied, 'people have always moved faster than their politicians, they have more to gain by standing up for themselves, politicians have more to lose. They say a politician thinks of the next election - a statesman thinks of the next generation. I say we all have a responsibility to think of the next generation and what we teach children by our example. This is what will change this world - they say the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world, we all have so much power to change the world simply by leading by example,' I said as I got up to make myself a cup of tea.
He fixed the laptop, took my book and left. I don't know if it did him any good but it certainly did me. It made me realise - Its fine to blame politicians, governments, religious leaders and do nothing ourselves; if you are not part of the solution to your own problems…you are the problem and if you can't sort out your own then what chance have you in sorting out anything else!
The only thing you can really change is yourself and in doing so you can change the next generation by your actions.
Wasn't it Mahatma Gandhi who said - "Be the change you want to see in the world".
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Jun 21, 15:00
Inspired writing. There is the focus on responsibility (the ability to respond) and their is focus on reaction (being a re-actionary). Personal and spiritual development both individually and collectively begins when the individual takes responsibility for learning not to be re-actionary. This takes commitment, practice and lots of patience. It takes the willingness to begin the process of forgiveness which does not mean you forget or you dishonor your experience. Bitterness and resentment at like taking poison in the hope that the person who has wronged you dies.
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