I watched in horror as reports of terrorism unfolded. I began to watch with intense curiosity how the world responded to the cascade of dominoes the terrorists put into motion.
My news feeds was filled with stories about global leadership and what should or shouldn’t be done as a counterattack on terrorism. My Facebook feed was filled with proclamations for or against the decisions to accept refuges into the United States. Quotes or pictures were posted that depict what friends believe, but may be afraid to say. Followers urge others to keep their beliefs to themselves while others are calling for an outcry. Friends of friends share pictures of Parisians “living the good life” as the ultimate revenge to living in fear.
So it goes – the cumulative effect produced when one event sets off a chain of events – otherwise known as the domino effect.
I don’t have answers to political maneuvering or the complexities of global power and corruption. I can’t claim to understand what motivates people to intentionally cause harm or incite divisiveness. In fact, the only thing I know for certain is that terrorism is rooted in fear. Fear of what, I do not know.
Martin Luther King Jr. proclaimed that darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. There was a piece of me that once believed that to be true. What now aligns more closely to my beliefs is the quote by President Jimmy Carter:
"War may sometimes be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil and never a good."
This is not a lecture on who or what is right and who or what is wrong. This journal story is simply an observation of humanity and the potential that resides within each of us.
It has been my observation that in order for some to shift from fear to light, there needs to be an undeniable force. The force can be a fierce determination to change because the pain to stay the same is more fearful; or the force can be an awakening. In either of these cases, the change happens with concerted intention and action. The action may be motivated by light, but it isn't light that causes change.
I experienced this shift through my choices in dysfunctional relationships, and in particular, my divorce. Regardless of our ugly split, we had a son that required us to co-parent. To gain the tools and understanding of how to work with somebody I didn’t necessarily respect or understand, I went to work on me and my issues. I read self help books and worked with a counselor and a coach. With my newfound spiritual connection, I attempted to be more loving and understanding and I incorporated different communication styles.
I tried to adapt my behaviors and sincerely attempted to seek understanding. I identified my fears and many shortcomings, and short of investing enough hours in self-help and the science of human behavior to become a clinical psychologist, it occurred to me that my ex was never going to change. He was who he was and no amount of love, prayer or intention would change his behaviors or choices -- even when those choices were harmful to our co-parenting efforts and dishonored our agreements. My form of "force" was no effective in influencing change.
The only thing that caused a shift was an equal – and similar -- opposing force.
I hired an attorney who counseled me that without consequences there would be no change. In the negotiations, my attorney cited examples and referenced evidence and facts of broken agreements. He communicated what respectful behavior looked like and how commitment to certain guidelines and operating principles would lead to the best outcome. Still my ex stood his ground. He was not motivated by shared responsibility or a commitment to greater good. He was motivated by the belief that he was better than me and that he was right and I was wrong. But my attorney had an undeniable force behind him – a serious and tangible consequence for not changing.
The powerful perspective on this topic is nothing more than an equation. The reality is that opposites exist. Opposing views exist and they get to have their truth. They bring their perspectives, values and beliefs to the table. We also have our truth. We bring our perspectives, values and beliefs to the table. THE truth is somewhere in between.
YOUR truth + MY truth = THE TRUTH
Call me a cynic, but we kid ourselves if we think that light can flush out dark. It may be a truth, but it isn't THE truth. It’s like shining a flashlight in the dark. The light shines where we point it, but that doesn’t mean darkness is gone. From my view, that’s how the world works. Without its opposite, we cannot recognize the light.
It rarely matters what evidence or stories are presented to influence a change. The catalyst for change is understanding what motivates their truth. Some will never choose change until there is a consequence -- an undeniable force – to do so.
We are all born with the same potential to bring light or darkness. Our choices, fueled by our motivations dictate what kind of impact we will make.
My wish for you is that you're motivated by Powerful Perspectives -- qualities that begin with awareness and move upward toward love.
Receive stories, self-coaching tools and tips each month. Sign up here.