“What if our religion was each other? If our practice was our life? If prayer was our words? What if the temple was the Earth? If forests were our church? If holy water- the rivers, lakes and oceans? What if meditation was out relationships? If the Teacher was life? If wisdom was self-knowledge? If love was the center of our being?” Ganga White
Oh to live in this world and in that way! Guess what though, darlings? We can if we choose to!
Love is a way of life. Pure and simple. And when we stray from that, most likely, we’ll find ourselves operating from a place of fear. Fear divides, separates, isolates and harms.
On this 20th anniversary of 9/11, I find myself thinking about the “culture of fear” that took hold in the aftermath of 9/11. A culture of fear that has permeated every area of life, society, politics and humanity. A culture of fear that we saw at the onset of war 20 years ago all the way up to the insurrection this past January and everything in between, and we continue to see…. despite different presidents, administrations and policies and the downside of social media.
The questions that continue to resurface for me time and time again are:
“How have you shown up in the past 20 years?”
“How do you want to show up in the next 5, 10, 15 or 20 years?
“What is your relationship with fear?”
“Do you operate from a place of fear or a place of love?”
“Are you able to look at others who are different from you from a place of love?”
“How do you feel when you encounter someone who looks different than you? Of a different race, religion, color, or culture than you?
“How have you bought into the culture of fear?”
“In what areas of your life do you operate from fear?”
“Are you able to “ignore the story and see the soul” as one of my beloved teachers and author of Revolution Within, Seane Corn, encourages us to do? “
The greatest poets, mystics, spiritual and religious teachers have taught us and continue to teach us that separation, division and fear separate us from our truest essence and connection to the Divine- that which is pure love- God’s only religion (and when I say God I mean the God of your own understanding be it a higher power, the Holy Mother, Mother Earth, the cosmos, the universe, etc).
Fear separates us. Fear makes us do crazy things. Fear makes us operate from a place of scarcity. Fear gets us into wars. Fear kills, maims, ostracizes, isolates, and destroys everything in its wake. Fear is the great divide. Fear divides us into two clearly distinct camps- us vs. them.
In my humble opinion, It is in the wake of the 20th anniversary of 9/11 that we all should be doing some MAJOR self analysis, self-inquiry and inner investigation (just a few of my favorite things) because our future, our world and our legacy depend on it. I found some inspiration, as well as a deep sense of grief, in the words of Kerri Kelly, founder of @ctznwell, author, podcaster and speaker:
“I had thought 9/11 was the worst of it- the most unimaginable and devastating loss- but it was just the beginning for so many. Since then, people of Arab and South Asian descent have been intimidated, surveilled, incarcerated and killed in exponentially increasing numbers. Military service members have given and taken their lives. Families have been torn apart through brutal immigration policies and mass incarceration. Millions of Americans have been surveilled and harassed. Black and brown communities have been targeted by racist militarism turned inward through law enforcement. And too many of us have given into a culture of fear, distrust and division.”
Her words alone give us much to reflect on, investigate, question, and even grieve. In one of her recent posts, where the words above come from, Kerri Kelly poses the following questions
What did we learn from the past 20 years?
Where has violence and militarism gotten us?
How do we repair the harm at home and around the world?
How do we create the conditions for true safety and care for all people?
How do we be good ancestors to those we lost?
How do we shift the legacy of 9/11 from one war to one of collective care?
I was fortunate to catch an interview with Kerri Kelly and Valerie Kaur on the anniversary of 9/11 and found myself lost in thought and thinking about this entire event with a different set of lenses. I don’t know about you, but I know I was a totally different person on so many levels 20 years ago. However, the one thing that has been a constant for me though has been love and following my heart. So… it’s not surprising that I was drawn to Ms. Kaur. I learned of Valerie Kaur a couple of years ago when I saw an interview about her work and her book and, since it all revolves around my favorite topic, love, I was instantly drawn to her and started following her work.
Valerie Kaur is a civil rights leader and founder of The Revolutionary Love Project. She is also the author of See No Stranger. The Revolutionary Love Project “envisions a world where love is public ethic and shared practice in our lives and politics.” They generate stories, tools and thought leadership to equip people to practice the ethic of love in the fight for social justice. The Revolutionary Love Project inspires people to build beloved communities where they are. They teach core practices of revolutionary love backed by research and infused with ancestral wisdom. In addition to educational tools, they produce training, courses, artwork, film, music and mass mobilization that center the voices of BIPOC communities. It is their belief that we can “birth a world where we see no stranger.”
For the 20th anniversary of 9/11, Valerie Kaur recently re-released the film, Divided We Fall – Americans in the Aftermath, that was made in 2006 and is just as relevant today. You can see the film for free and access the Educator’s Guide to the film as well as the Screening and Dialogue Guide at valeriekaur.com. The film apparently toured hundreds of US cities, won international awards and became known as the “go-to documentary on post 9/11 hate crimes.”
Darlings, the tools are out there for those of us who want to be part of re-imagining and birthing a new world. It takes work, a lot of self-study, blood, sweat and tears, but wouldn’t it be worth it if we could play a small part in birthing this new world? What a way to honor and pay homage to our ancestors, those who lost their lives in past wars, on 9/11 and its aftermath!!! Imagine the world we could create for future generations? And speaking of future generations, what world would you like for them to inherit? What legacy do you want to leave behind?
It is my hope that this blog has made you pause, think and reflect. Perhaps some of my questions resonated for you? Perhaps you feel inspired by Kerri’s words, feel motivated to read See No Stranger or interested in looking into The Revolutionary Love Project?
Remember…when faced with a choice, always choose Love over Fear…Love can be a way of life…pure and simple!
May you always lead from the heart…right from the start, JTC