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Loving the Warriors... and the Haters

Dana Theus's picture

I remember September 11th like it was yesterday. The first thing I remember is that my kids were in school about three and half miles from the smoking wreckage of the Pentagon. The next thing I remember is that my husband’s office was between the White House and the Capital – where the fourth plane was headed -- and that he couldn’t get to the kids because everyone was running, driving and walking out of the city for their lives. The next image that swims into view was me -- stuck in Los Angeles for a week away from my family and friends in NY and DC who were suffering so terribly. For the first and last time in years, I was glued to CNN to watch the tragedy unfold. Even LA shut down for three days, the American People were so shocked – and afraid.

But then what I remember was love. The great outpouring of support for the victims and their families -- the calls for tolerance and not to continue the cycle of hate. My neighbors and country responded to those calls – for a while.

A Decade of Conflict

I’m very conflicted about the wars that have raged on our taxdollars over the past ten years. While I abhor violence, I’m not foolish enough to think that it doesn’t play a role in keeping our world from falling into chaos. My brother’s an ex-cop. My son wants to be a Marine. I live and work in Washington and I read the paper, struggling to understand the difficult choices my neighbors who run the country have to make on a daily basis. What I know about the policies and practices that try to keep our world safe reminds me that there is no simple solution. And so I wrestle with how I should feel about the fact that some of my taxdollars, which I give freely to the government that does so much for us, are used to drop bombs that birth widows and orphans.

My personal approach is not to engage in conflict. I vote my conscience. I don’t give energy to negative thoughts. I teach my children tolerance, acceptance and love. I contribute to good causes that help those widows. But that doesn’t relieve the conflict around me, or in me.

Loving The Warriors

Nowhere is the conflict more apparent to me than when I think about the warriors themselves. In Arlington, VA where I live you see them on the streets, on the metro, in the coffee shops. They are the ones spending my taxdollars to create death and destruction. And they are the ones upholding my freedom and helping the children who are homeless because of their violence. Some of them are dear friends. All of them have my love, respect and sympathy.

Recently I worked on a project that took me into the halls of the Pentagon itself. The building has been nicely refurbished with a somber memorial and a more secure entrance that at least kept a crazy gunslinger at bay – instead of letting him run rampant inside -- a few months before I took the job. On my first visit there I wasn’t sure what to expect. I know members of the military, but I’d never been in such a concentrated hotbed of them. What would the energy be like? Would it be brewing with anger as they plotted bombing campaigns and funding strategies to get more guns? Or would Defense Secretary Gates’ and Admiral Mullens’ balanced and – in my view – rational energy pervade?

As I walked the halls, had the meetings, joked with my friends over lunch, I made an effort to see them all with my magical eyes, and what I saw were people driven by a purpose, a belief, that what they did was noble, important and necessary. Many were weary. All were respectful. I liked that I could make them relax by seeing them with love, even though that wasn’t my job there.

But as I left the building I had another uncomfortable thought. The people we fight. The haters – both inside and outside our borders, inside and outside our institutions – they are also driven by purpose and a belief that what they do is important. They are also warriors in this fight. Are they worthy of my love and respect?

Loving the Haters

I do not love or respect hatred. The ends do not justify the means and hatred is a means. Even if pursuing a worthy goal, hatred brings consequences that tarnish the achievement, leave more heartache and breed more violence – if not to the body then to the soul. There are warriors on both sides that are noble and warriors who are haters. I choose not to respect or support the haters, no matter who they fight for. But I must love the haters themselves, for otherwise I am no better than they.

I must tell you that this hurts me. Opening myself up to hatred is painful. It reminds me that I am capable of hate myself. But that’s not the point. The only way I can combat the haters is to love them. I do not condone their actions; I support those that fight them in the flesh; I would be happy to see them behind bars. But I do not hate them. Selfishly, and to protect myself from becoming a hater, I send them my love.

My Prayer

On this day of remembrance, I muster my heartforce to send out streams of love to all those who have suffered at the hands of hate, and to those who have wielded the instruments of suffering. I don’t do this for noble reasons and I don’t do it easily. I do it because it is the only way I know how to fight.

Tell me, how has this decade of conflict affected you, your neighbors and your world? How do you cope? How do you fight? Share your stories, please.

n/a

Comments

Dana Theus's picture

From the bottom of my heart

Lisa

I can't tell you how deeply your comments touched me. Not just because they resonate so deeply with own experience, but because your own heartfelt witness to the spiritual struggle we go through as "spiritual warriors" is so subtle to the outside world - and yet so wrenching and difficult within the silence of an individual soul.

Your comment, and everyone's on this post, is EXACTLY why I write. In some very personal sense it's just an effort not to feel so alone in the vacuum of spirit - which is so full in meditation and yet sometimes so echoingly quiet in the day to day of walking the earth, despite the noise of our world. And that's the other reason I write, to help us ALL feel less alone. Your testimony makes it all worthwhile.

Let us go on building our Spiritual Army of Love because someday we will be the strongest force on the planet. Maybe not in our lifetime, but it's really about so much more than that.

SO much love to you.

n/a
Lisa's picture

Self versus self -- Loving Love more than Loving Righteousness..

Thank you for your honesty about the challenging step to spiritual maturity that demands of us that we figure out how to deconstruct the power of our own negative emotions and ideations and wholeheartedly experience the full unmitigated Presence of Love in the beingness of those whose actions we perceive to be the most evil or unforgiveable. It's not just the overt haters, either, we have to release our personal "evildoers," honoring their irreplaceable domain in the being and nature of all things, and embracing their essential spiritual natures, as well. Yikes!

I have found this mandatory leg of the journey to be the deepest, rockiest, most surprising of all. It's a day by day, moment by moment, kinda practice, without "time outs," or reasonable exemptions, of any kind. It reveals to me my weakest places, hidden refuges of fear, of egotism, and the last vestiges of that anti-urge to loving's call of "i don't really wanna right now." Ego demands to know "What do you mean that after all those awesome meditations and spectacular healings I'm not "there" yet?" "How can I be this mean or punitive, or terrified about X?" I suppose we could not be so perfectly humbled without a certain foundation of faith's effectiveness in action -- but the intensity of spiritual discipline required to love the haters, the temporal "evildoers," can feel like the equivalent of bench pressing a couple of thousand pounds with a broken arm -- it really hurts and it is really really hard to do.

Our warriors, law enforcement, first responders, are so close to my heart these days because they are compelled by their chosen work to wrestle with the scariest life-threatening experiences and human behaviors. Somehow the majority of these men and women have mastered their personal fears, anger, fatigue, desires, in order to fulfill their commitments to the duties they have sworn to fulfill. So similar in so many ways to the commitments we make to spiritual practice in the face of whatever appearances we confront -- and yet so much more intense because truly their very lives and the lives of others hang in the balance where warriors are concerned. Warriors are my inspiration and my Beloveds. I bless and thank them for their choices to serve according to their values, and for reminding me of the levels of self-mastery it is possible for humans as well as spiritual aspirants to overcome within the most extreme circumstances.

Thanks for the opportunity to express these thoughts in an understanding community.

Dana Theus's picture

Loving the Warriors

Nan
Yes, I have to say that I had very little exposure to the military for a long time - most of my life until very recently. This allowed me to demonize them in my mind in very unfair ways when i was young. As I've worked with them more, read their stories and let them into my life I've come to love them deeply. I have so much admiration for what they do - all of them. Thank you for letting this "poke" you. And thank you for your work in the world. Serving the servicemembers is service indeed!

n/a
Nan's picture

Thank you

Dana---------I found this buried in my inbox this AM and almost didn't read it. Something poked at me though, so I clicked and read. And am so very glad I did. Thank you for expressing so eloquently what I feel everyday in my work with military service members and their families in the section on "Loving the Warriors". I am the "flaming liberal" in their midst and not once have I felt anything but respect for the work I do with them. I am blessed to be working with such an amazing group of human beings.

As for loving the haters.......it is a daily struggle, sometimes an hourly one but I try. Everyday I try.

With apprecitaion and hope,

Nan

Dana Theus's picture

blessed

Tre
I feel blessed by your words. Thank you. This plucked something within me, "it made me a better thought leader and devoted metaphysician for the globe." I felt/feel the same way. 9/11 opened something in me I knew was there but never FELT so deeply. I am still working on opening myself up to what happened then. I think it happend for many (as you and I are testament to) but there is much work to be done - as individuals and as a species. I have faith that we are progressing.

I too, often pray for "everyone" and "anyone who needs it now" because I know there is just so much need. I believe truly that it matters. It's what we can do.

Thank you for your comments and your witness. We will just go on loving.

n/a
Tre ~'s picture

nodding, nodding, nodding and hugging and standing with you

this was so beautifully written dana...
thank you for sharing from the heart where you've resolved to direct your thoughts..
huge
perhaps the greatest leap for all of us is to find that which stews/stirs fear and hatred and meet and master it with love
i can't imagine what you felt like as a mother that day so far away
...as was i just north of you teaching 30 11 yr olds (6th grade) and trying so much to how to mentally hug and be there for those who were enduring so much back east directly and globally indirectly.
we woke up that day..we woke up to the reality that terror is apart of some folks every single hour.
it made me a better thought leader and devoted metaphysician for the globe.
i never know what i'm tugged to pray but i always know there's someone somewhere who may need to feel an ounce less fearful and someone somewhere who may feel a pull to overcome the hatred within.
your testimony from the heart is such a reminder to me that all of us are nudged to expand how we love...
thank you for such an honest provoking piece...

Tre ~

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