Fighting is Easy (Love is Hard)

With tension towards violence elevated on a national level today, we thought it apropos to publish Andrea’s Fighting is Easy (Love is Hard) article that she originally wrote in April 2014 as a blogger for The Spirited Woman.

By Andrea Chilcote

When the same lessons show up say, three or even four times in a row, I listen. The lessons this week point to one principle: we are all connected. If you doubt that, just pay attention to the influence you have on other people – and vice versa.

After a day of travel in which I seemed to either transform potentially difficult situations into positive ones, or nearly jeopardized my on-time agenda simply because of my own negative energy about the situation, I paused to take it in. I had felt a little off since leaving the house Tuesday morning, sensing heightened emotions whenever I was in contact with other people. Was I picking up on their state of being, or transferring my own to them?

I asked my friend Debbie if she was experiencing something similar. Here’s what she said:

“What affects one affects everyone. When you recognize that you are not in alignment, or are in a state of resistance – you have physical pain, emotional stress or not so good experiences – simply correct course and head back to a state of love. As we reflect love out, it will be reflected back.”

Fighting is easy. Being right, being the victim and being burdened is easy. Rising up is hard. Love is hard – but it’s so worth it.

Okay, I got it. The message was one of those “simple not easy” ones. Then I had a conversation with a colleague that went something like this:

“I get so frustrated with myself about everything – mistakes I make or needs I know I have but don’t make time or space for. And then the more frustrated I get, the more paralyzed I become. I tell myself how bad it is, and then of course it becomes so.”

She sounded like she was fighting with herself. Immediately, I thought about my travel lessons. I had begun to “fight” with the Avis clerk about who was right, and the conversation spiraled downward. I stopped in the middle, and focused on being compassionate – loving even – in the moment. I got my car, and was on my way.

I suggested to my colleague that she consider giving up the fight and instead treat herself with compassion. It seemed to me that she – and none of us really – have the luxury of negativity. Even though it’s the easy way.

Then, as if to confirm my premise, a book review arrived this morning via email with this excerpt from The Nonviolence Handbook by Michael Nagler. The subject line was “Violence is the Easier Path.”

“Nonviolence is not the recourse of the weak but actually calls for an uncommon kind of strength; it is not a refraining from something but the engaging of a positive force.”

Choose Peace

Peace 5Today I’m reminded of a post I made nearly a year ago, just after the Boston Marathon bombing. I wrote of how our polarized differences lead to senseless violence, and offered a plea to “choose peace.”

The topic is on my mind this day after a fortunate veto by our governor of senate bill 1062, which proposed to give businesses the right to actively discriminate against AZ citizens in the name of religious beliefs. While there was no physical violence involved, the fear and hatred that drives these kinds of proposals is violence too – and in my view, the antithesis of what religion purports to represent.

The message, choose peace, is timely as Arizona seeks to heal.

by Andrea Chilcote

One of the things I do is help people find common ground even when they are, at their core, very different. The differences can be a result of social, political, or religious viewpoints or they can be hardwired as personality traits. It’s my belief that this diversity is an asset when its respected and welcomed, and it is a barrier to peace, progress, and productivity when it is not embraced. Of course, there’s no shortage of work to be done.

On the day of the Boston bombings, a friend wrote on his Facebook page of his dismay that while he grew up in a gray world, it appears we have become so “black and white” in our mindsets. He lamented the absence of compromise and tolerance.

As I read his post and watched the news, I thought about the core need we have to be with those of like mind and heart. It’s no secret that we seek and are more at ease with those who share our interests and views. There’s something very comforting to me about spending time with cherished old friends with common goals, and I’m invigorated in work and in life by those with whom I share values and beliefs. This week I have enjoyed both immensely, and I treasure the experiences.

For me, this human need for connection with those like us has never appeared to be in conflict with tolerance. While of course I have no idea of the true motive of the bombing perpetrators, the events of the week, my friend’s post and my own daily observations have me wondering to myself whether the pendulum has swung. Those who have crossed over the line engage in outright violence. But I see many others so bereft of connection that they lash out in insidious violence, not that which is illegal or life-threatening, but violent still. Are we becoming so polarized that we cannot consider compromise or commonality of any sort? For healthy individuals, blatant condemnation is a choice.

I challenge you to a practice I intend to embrace this week. Practice peace.

I know it sounds cliché. Yet cliché results from empty words. Practice requires action, however small the step. I vow to hold my tongue when a criticism arises. Take a breath when I’m impatient. Ask a question before I draw a firm conclusion.

We feel powerless when large scale violence occurs around us. Choice is powerful. We can take back our power moment by moment, simply by choosing peace.

_____

This post appeared originally on The Spirited Woman where Andrea is a weekly blogger.

Becoming the Change

by Andrea Chilcote

One week in June I declared my mind a negativity-free zone. And given that it started in an airport, with a trip on an airplane, It worked out pretty well and I strive to continue the process.

What I am about to say feels a bit obvious as I type. Our thoughts and feelings lead to words and deeds, which carry an energy. Our actions then (and of course the thoughts that precede the actions) influence the energy around us. Ergo, if our own state of being is uplifting, positive and hopeful, we will attract similar conditions, making it very easy to respond in kind.

What if maintaining your own high frequency was all it would take? It is all that’s needed. We know this, right?

Throughout my life, I have tried to follow this principle: “She who has the knowledge has the responsibility.” So if I am to be true to this lesson, I must seek to put forth and consume only that which contributes to something constructive, vs. destroys. Oh, that doesn’t mean I approach a very difficult world in a Pollyannaish way. Quite the contrary. During that June week, I prayed and shed tears for seemingly senseless tragedies occurring in my midst. But I do not wish to contribute to senseless pain, and therefore I’m working, however imperfectly, to eliminate any hurtful attitudes and behavior from the choices I make.

Violence. I recall leading a dialogue skills course in the 90’s in which there was a model for a continuum of behavior from “silence”- the traditional “flight” behavior, – to “violence,” the traditional “fight” behavior. I never liked using the word violence in association with everyday conversation. It seemed excessive and exaggerated. Now, many years later, I understand it as expressed. Small acts of violence such as insensitive or spiteful remarks contribute to the overload of such, because they simply attract more of what we don’t want.

This attraction principle works another way, too. Think about the word “inspiration.” Inspiration requires one to “be the change they wish to see” or “be the person they wish to be in relationship with,” and its grand reward is that it requires another to see something attractive that they wish to follow.

What if real freedom was the ability to choose the frequency at which we resonate in the world each day? What if?

If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. We need not wait to see what others do.– Mahatma Gandhi