By Molly Hock
Bombings in Iraq. Racism and police violence in America. Attack after attack in Istanbul. Violence and killings leading to genocide in Burma. Thousands stranded in Greece. Bombings in Cairo. Hate crimes in England.
My heart cries for the lives lost and the lives touched by the recent violence in Germany. My soul aches for all those affected by child slavery, sex trafficking, and prostitution. My entire being feels the pain of the Yazidi people, of the young girls captured and held by ISIS.
The Fog of Suffering
Waking up to news of one act of violence after another has recently put me into a head fog. I have been at a loss for words, which is when I know I’m struggling. It is easy to get lost in suffering when our daily conversations, our media headlines, and our Facebook newsfeeds revolve around the pain and injustices of our world. It is easy to lose focus, to give up hope. But how does this serve our global community?
I have spent the past few days reflecting on the importance and connection of both global awareness and inner peace. As a spiritual humanitarian, I find both of these elements to be vital in today’s society. Can we really have inner peace without being aware of what is happening to our brothers and sisters around the world? Is it effective to be immersed in global injustices without inner peace?
Inner Peace and Global Awareness Go Hand in Hand
Through my personal experience of retreating in the Hridaya Community for months at a time, having the violence of ISIS land on my doorstep, and being immersed in the suffering of refugees in Greece and Turkey, I can tell you that I cannot have one without the other. I cannot serve our global community while being lost in suffering, but I also cannot have inner peace without serving those around me.
So how do we find a balance between the two when it is so very easy to slip into one realm or the other? How can we channel the suffering, the hatred, and the pain through us while remaining centered and hopeful? I feel it is my life’s journey to play with the dance between the two, finding a place of healthy synchronicity.
I watched two short video clips when I arrived home the other day after visiting refugee friends celebrating a religious holiday in the parks of Thessaloniki. The first video was of a 15-year-old boy sobbing after his father was shot and killed by two policemen in America. I was in tears… Tears for this young child, for all black people enduring injustices, and for the lack of humanity from our media outlets. WHY, CNN? WHY!? When a child is losing control of his emotions, respect him, turn off the camera. Let this young boy heal in privacy, comfort, and dignity.
The second clip was of Shiite and Sunni Muslims joining together in Iraq to pray at the site of a recent car bombing, which took the lives of 250 innocent people. This is when I felt the gentle reminder to see the light in the darkness, to acknowledge the beauty that stems from hardship. The serenity I experienced while watching this short clip was a reminder to feel deeply, to welcome all that arises within, to be gentle with myself and with the world around me, to remain grateful for all that is, to give myself fully for the benefit of all beings, and to embody the importance of self-care.
Absorbing All That Is
So, tonight I choose to see the beauty in our world. I chose to retain hope, to share my light with all those around me, to honor myself for where I am in this moment. I take tonight as an opportunity to breathe in the air around me, to be grateful for the present moment, and to soak up all of the love and beauty in my life. Tonight, I simply absorb all that is. I accept both the darkness and the light.
Molly is a Hridaya Yoga teacher who is currently volunteering with refugees in Jordan. To support her work, make a donation here.