“If that happened to me, man, I’d just go… WILD!”
Have you ever heard someone say something like that? Me, I heard it all too often, and I felt like that myself all too often. Someone got murdered. Someone got raped. Someone got tortured. Someone got fired, or judged, or debased under the most unjust circumstances. Rage and anger or a feeling of unsettlement, powerlessness, or depression are the most natural reactions to have unto hearing or even suffering yourself such violation of human dignity. It drives us crazy, cries for revenge. No wonder we find those who commit such violations themselves been treated this way. Their suffering is the key to your suffering, so understanding your own grief in turn can be the key to your understanding their motives; they are taking revenge for their needs not being met; they are acting out the lessons they have learned.
Our first reaction to hearing about victims who were forgiving the perpetrators often is incredulity. “How can they? I don’t believe this.” Like Marshall Rosenberg speaking of the Rwandan woman who lost her whole family in the genocide, but shows no hate, no rejection, no call for revenge. She is not in denial. She is not suppressing the grief. On the contrary, her acceptance of grief, her commitment to vulnerability, her insight into the inevitability of physical suffering, is the one thing that healed her psychological wounds and drove her to work in a positive direction, for peace; to break the chain of unmet needs.
Rosenberg might have got her wrong, or he is exaggerating in order to promote his best-selling Non-violent communication books. But I don’t think so.
Having overcome huge amounts of life-long grudge and hatred myself within a few months, I found clear evidence to his accuracy of observation. The film “Scared Sacred“ shows several more of them. Survivors of Bhopal, Hiroshima, 9/11, Intifada, the Khmer Rouge tyranny, the Jewish holocaust, and the wars in Bosnia and Afghanistan opened their hearts to film director Velcrow Ripper and showed how they developed their capacity to transcend hate, stopped thinking of themselves as victims, and turned the lessons learned from grief into positive actions.
From Rumi to Rosenberg, from Buddha to Eisenstein, from Jesus to Krishnamurti, from Ruppert to Adyashanti, from Native Americans to Indian fakirs, from the Shamans of South America to Kübler-Ross, people have shown that, while physical suffering may not be avoided, psychological suffering can be ended. It is merely stories we tell about the world and ourselves. While some say it takes courage to choose a bold one, I believe this is just another story about reasons for not moving on.
Suffering is learning, like making mistakes is learning. If we allow ourselves to examine the grief a certain behaviour brings, or the problems a certain technique creates, we find out about what doesn’t work, so we can turn to something that actually does. The trick is to let go of ideas that feel comfortable, yet don’t work. You don’t stick with a bridge-building technique that ended in a crash, do you? So you may not want to stick with hateful feelings forever, as well. And, as a society, we better not stick with the everyone-for-themselves paradigm, as it has proven to create tremendous amounts of suffering due to its intrinsic inability for meeting needs, both on individual and collective level.
So you see, all that philosophical stuff I am talking about all the time is deeply rooted in everyday life. It is connected to our individual experiences. I am far from preaching morals or virtues; all this is about discovering correlations, connections, ties, between our sense of being and the world at large. By using words, I am limited to offering concepts: the concept of interdependency; the concept of oneness. Don’t just accept them; try to find truth in yourself. If you feel like your psychological suffering means eternal disablement – go ahead; examine that to its farthest reach. Yet, apart from such concepts, there is an age-old insight, shared by all humanity, into a reality beyond suffering. If you can feel it, too, learn about people who touched it. They can help you to proceed.