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Spiritual matters

Make change happen for nonviolence

January 26, 2011 - When major events happen we tend to look for someone to blame. Once we've found someone to blame, we think our work is done and then we can get back to normal.

We see this at work around the recent shootings in Tucson. There are a lot of fingers pointing in a lot of different directions. And for every finger pointed away from us there are three pointed back at ourselves.

One thing I do know, we cannot write this off as God's will, "It is not the will of my father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish." (Matthew 18:14) "It is the father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." (Luke 12:32)

It is a call to awaken to a new level of possibility.

Yes, this was a senseless, tragic occurrence and the guilty party(s) should be held accountable for their actions. And, with an understanding of group dynamics and systems theory, I know that we have an opportunity for real change. "Repent, (think again with a new level of understanding) for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 3:2)

This is a Teachable Moment: a traumatic moment filled with emotion that catches our attention and begs us to question our understandings and preconceived notions of reality. Why did this happen? How do we stop this from happening again? Why can't we all get along? What do we need to change and what can we change to foster harmony? These are some of the questions that we need to answer for ourselves.

The answers are not as simple as some would have us believe. Gun control? Sure it would be great to keep the guns out of the hands of the violent and insane, but it would not be a good idea to take guns away from law abiding citizens. No one politician, individual or group's rhetoric can be blamed. We all share responsibility for creating the negative mental soil within which the seed for this event germinated. Every thought of anger, blame, shame, selfishness, greed, etc., adds to this negative mental soil.

A child that acts out can only truly be understood and treated within the family system that supports him or her. Dysfunctional families such as a workaholic father and an over protective mother, or a myriad of other destructive, obsessive or compulsive behaviors, are directly related to a child's acting out. The answer is simple but not easy. The system must be healed in order for the individual to be healed.

In this Teachable Moment we have an opportunity for real change, a call to unity. Will we arise to the occasion, or will we simply go back to sleep and let "them" handle it?

You can "be the change you wish to see in the world" (Mahatma Ghandi). Right now you can search your heart and mind to purge the negative, destructive thoughts and emotions, and replace them with positive, nurturing, empowering, divine ideas and feelings. And, you can join with others in supporting the growth in awareness of the interdependent whole.

Sunday, Jan. 30 is the beginning of The Season of Nonviolence. This is a 64-day period dedicated to demonstrating that nonviolence is a powerful way to heal, transform, and empower our lives and our communities. See www.agnt.org for more information.

In the words of the song "Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me."

Matthew E. Long is senior minister

at Peace Unity Church & Holistic Center.

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