We are all one vs. violence

My animal survival instinct and my human ego tell me that my life (and the safety of my family) is more important than yours – but my soul tells me that it is not.

There, I’ve said it. Is that raw enough? Doesn’t that really sum up the reason that we consider going to war? That we kill each other in the streets? That we continue to fight over food, economic policies…over anything?

If you have read my previous articles, you know I usually approach parenting as it pertains to my young daughter. Well, during the recent crisis in Syria, I have had many discussions with my spiritual, peace-loving, twenty-year-old nephew. One struck me as odd and we played it out until the wee hours of the morning. He, like me and so many spiritual people, has been praying intently for a peaceful, non-violent resolution to the Syrian situation. He has visceral reactions at the thought of us intervening in another country with even targeted attacks; and he is adamant in his agreement that violence would beget more violence.

On this night, we discussed our shared feelings that no “collateral damage” is acceptable, as well as our wish that there was a way to break the cycle of war to end tyranny. We talked about how past acts, like what is going on in Syria, that have gone unchecked by the international community have come back to haunt the world when they became mass genocide later. But we both, again, stated wishes that we lived in a world where there were other viable answers than more violence. We acknowledged that there are no easy answers and stated that we didn’t envy any of the leaders and their decisions at this time; especially given the thought about retaliation if our government did decide to act with strikes.

And that’s when he surprised me.

As the conversation turned toward the long-term effects of waging violence against others and what happens when we continue to anger the rest of the world with our interventions and potentially have aggression toward our own soil, his demeanor and attitude changed. He is all about peace until he feels his own safety and security threatened. He almost became hawkish as he talked about protecting our soil at all costs. I gently began asking him questions, trying (mindfully) not to make his opinions wrong, about where he draws a line of difference.  He stated that this is “our land” and “our people” and so we must protect them.

I asked him what border makes it “ours.”  Is it our lawn? Our street? Our state? Our country? Our continent or hemisphere? I even posited that, within my understanding of “We Are All One” from Conversations with God, to me, “our” includes every human on earth as an equal and undivided part of me. With this in mind, we either love and protect, to the extent possible, every person on earth equally or we give up that façade and we try a different approach.

See, like most of you, I don’t know the answers to these burning questions. I don’t know how to end violence in the world. I hope and believe that the spiritual and prayerful push of the last week and a half had an effect on John Kerry’s off-hand remark, the Russian encouragement, and the Syrian apparent acquiescence to a possible chemical disarmament (try to say that 10 times fast).

But I cannot walk around feeling that American lives are superior and deserve to be protected above other lives. I cannot, as much as I love my daughter, my nephew, and my husband, carry a gun to protect them at the cost of killing another person. I just cannot value one life over another. I haven’t fully decided where self-defense fits in with spirituality (although I have been confronted with situations in which I knew I would not kill to protect myself), but we have to start somewhere to shift the paradigm away from violence. Someone has to be willing to “put the weapons down” and talk…

…And intelligence and diplomacy have to stop looking like weakness.

In the end, I may not have changed my nephew’s mind about protecting “us” at all costs. But I am hoping that on some level I have helped him to begin exploring a new level of the concept, understanding, and application of “We Are All One.”

What conversations have you had with your young ones about the conflict between violence and love?

(Emily A. Filmore is the Creative Co-Director of www.cwgforparents.com. She is also the author/illustrator of the “With My Child” Series of books about bonding with your child through everyday activities.  Her books are available at www.withmychildseries.com. To contact Emily, please email her at Emily@cwgforparents.com.)

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  • Contentttt

    “But I am hoping that on some level I have helped him to begin exploring a new level of the concept, understanding, and application of “We Are All One.””

    This is such a great topic, the concept “We Are All One”!
    Now is this a concept of the mind for you Emily?
    Is this a belief you have and hold, but have not yet energetically felt in connection to every other?
    When you say to your nephew, “We Are All One”, when you look at him do you:
    Feel his energy is your energy?
    Feel his self is your self?
    Do all forms of energy that divide and separate disappear for you and you cannot see him as any One but the One You Are?

    When “We Are All One” is not just a concept and you recognize and feel your energy is the energy of every other One….then the ONE has returned to it’s SELF! Then the concept “We Are ALL ONE”, will not just be a concept, but our reality and the reality of the I AM!
    Then war and that which divides will not longer exist!
    That’s when a “Peace that Passes ALL Understanding”, resonating within, will dissolve the boundaries and energy that is the Illlusion of Separation!

    I do not feel the boundaries any longer. I know you are me! I feel you and I feel me. I sense you and I sense me. I know you, because I know me!! I accept you, because I accept me! I AM…..so, I know you as the I AM, I AM, having a different experience for the Evolution and Growth of the I AM…..I AM and You Are Also!! I cannot see or feel the boundaries any longer….it is not possible for me! Yet, sometimes I challenge the I AM, another is, to give the I AM another is, the opportunity to show me where I AM, within the I AM….I AM another IS!!

    Does any of this make sense to you?
    Because it sure does to me!!
    The little old pot stirrer…..I AM!!

  • mewabe

    If you hurt another to protect yourself or a loved one, it APPEARS to mean you value your life or that of the loved one above the aggressor’s.

    If you let the aggressor attack without defending yourself or a loved one, it APPEARS to mean you value the life of the aggressor above yours.

    Either way you are stuck, until you realize that the aggressor has made a choice…choosing aggression, s/he has made it clear that s/he values neither your life nor his/hers.

    In this case, and depending on the situation, you can choose the healing way, which would be to try to restore a sense of life’s value and sanctity in his/her mind and heart, or, in other cases, non lethal self defense when possible.

    Lethal self defense should be applied only in the most extreme of cases, and is justified as a mirror response to a consciousness that has not come to term with the meaning and implications of devaluing life, his/hers and yours. When such implications are not understood, the devaluing continues.

    Nature, the universe are one, in harmony, balance, kinship and unity. Yet animals kill each other in predation…we kill animals to eat them, and plants. Does it mean we hate them?

    The Creator created predator and prey, such as African wild dogs that eat their preys alive. Does it mean that the Creator is cruel, sadistic, hateful? Or does it mean these dogs were created by some “devil” while God was busy playing golf and wasn’t looking?

    The understanding of oneness must expand beyond what it is usually thought to mean.
    Oneness means interconnection and interdependence, harmony and balance. It does not mean that the world must all become fluffy and cuddly as in Disneyworld. Storms, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, viruses, poisonous plants and fierce predators are ALL part of ONENESS, and so are we.

    The difference between us and animals? We take our dramas so much more seriously, and we hold on to them forever…animals simply let go, living in the moment!

  • Richard Robinson

    I tell the young ones I meet and connect with that there are many ways to solve a problem ….but Love works differently than other ways, when you choose the Loving way it’s more about giving than taking….I try and talk to them like little equals 🙂 we all have something to learn …:) sorry , Remember with each other. They’re still young and Remembering about God-Goddess-All That Is…But they understand Santa 🙂 so I use a similar thought pattern and apply it in Santa terms and Kids get it 🙂 Later they will come to know All that Is, and see why it’s just “nicer” to stay off the “naughty list”. Kids are great teachers too, they can still see and believe the magic in the world.