We live in a society that loves fear and violence, and judging from what we have demanded in entertainment and games, it certainly looks like the majority of human beings hunger for it. We feed our children the ideals of war, avenging heroes, monsters killing each other, explosions and fires, screaming victims, and violence 24 hours a day on TV. Weekend mornings feature all of this plus sound effects and ghastly mutilations in cheerful colorful “cartoons.” We say “It isn’t real. It’s just a cartoon show.” But the messages get through loud and clear. We now have a generation raised on “virtual” almost-everything, and the lines between real and not-real are becoming more and more blurred, and very unclear.
All this troubles me deeply, but it’s a reality of our times, and we have made it this way by what we accept and the standards we keep. Why do we love to see hatred and destruction? Why do we love to hate? I ask myself this question, but I have no answer. Why do we choose to make fear and pain and tragedy such a large part of our lives, when we could have anything we want? Obviously there is something in us that wants this. Murder mysteries, horror movies, thrilling high speed car chases. Any time I turn on my TV or drive my car - it surely does look like almost everybody is “driving to kill“ and eagerly interested in every kind of death and destruction. Violent sex has replaced any kind of love in 98 percent of our movies these days, and it’s hard to find anything else to see.
I do understand why it’s there; It’s there because we chose it. I just don’t understand why we’ve chosen it - why we as a society have chosen and continue to choose violence and death, day after day, again and again. Hollywood simply gives us what we want, because that’s what we will buy.
Love stories, stories about facing life with honesty, and the human courage and faith to overcome circumstances - these were the mainstay of movies in the 1940s, 50s, and 60’s. Now the fad has changed, and it’s all about excitement, the thrill of terror, blood and guts and violence, and that’s the model of life that we are force-feeding our children. We have done it for two generations now. A few decades ago, Psychologists told us it would not make kids violent. And we believed them? Now we are seeing the harvest of what we’ve sown, just as every traditional religious faith always told us we would.
There's no way to deny it. Children are killing their playmates. Teens are committing mass murders and suicide at school. And young adults in gangs are killing people they don’t even know, as an initiation to membership. Well, that’s the way they have been taught to solve problems. They have been shown, thousands of times a year, that it’s OK and in fact admirable to kill people, as long as you are the Good Guy, or if somebody has hurt you or your feelings. Or if someone didn’t love you enough, or if life didn’t give you what somebody else got.
Let’s get one thing straight right here:
Life/God loves every single one of us unconditionally, and expresses that love in our lives exactly as much as we allow It/Him/Her to do. That’s the bottom line, the eternal truth we can all count on. Each life has some problems and challenges; they are gifts in an unlikely wrapper, but gifts nonetheless, and they are sent to us to help us grow as human beings and as souls. They’re not sent randomly, but at our own soul's calling. When we blame life, other people, luck, fate, or God for what happens in our lives, that is a cop-out of universal proportions. Don’t do it. Making excuses or blaming someone or something else doesn’t fool anybody, not even yourself.
Here is the basic truth you need to know, in order to change your life - if you want to.
There is much more to you than this one mortal life. There is a greater You that is timeless, placeless, limitless and eternal. It is not somewhere else, or something you become after you die. It is with you now, available to you now, for the asking. The greater You is a spiritual Being having a human experience because your soul chose to. This greater You is the “You” you truly are, and can be now. Yes, of course you will have some difficulties and problems in this life to overcome, but truthfully, nothing is stopping you - but you.
Even though fear and violence are obviously growing on the surface-level of things, the real strength and vast limitless possibility are growing quietly in everyday-earnest-hearts like yours. Even if you have been caught up in the habits and traps of our times, the eternal truth is this: a much stronger power and greater happiness is available to you, anytime you call upon it. But you must choose it and claim it, in big and little ways every day, even though it may be the polar opposite of the current fads and lifestyles you find around you now. We are all exposed to thoughts and visions that are negative, violent, or destructive, and "Thrills" may make us feel more alive, for the moment. But they are deadly both physically and spiritually, and you are worth more than that.
Begin to give that up. It will not be easy at first. It will be a lot like giving up an addiction, because that’s actually what it is. Like all addictions, in the beginning it seems pleasurable, and then it takes over, a little bit at a time. So giving up the fear and violence approach to life may take time and work. And as you go, you begin to replace fear with faith, and suspicion with trust, and hatred with the choice to be kind or neutral instead. As soon as we begin this, an enormous weight is lifted, a weight we have carried for so long that we got used to it, and thought it was just the way life is.
It’s not the way life is. The way life is, is what you choose. Thoughts are powerful. They attract whatever they envision. What you have is what you’ve chosen, perhaps unknowingly. If you find that you have attracted what you don't want into your life, change it by changing the contents of your mind to attract something better.
Try this: Make a new habit of noticing the choices you make from minute to minute, all day, even in the smallest things. If you are “carrying a grudge” against a coworker or family member, it is in truth a burden of weight you are carrying on your mind and your spirit, and it’s weighing you down and stealing your joy. The more time you spend feeling angry or hurt, the less time you spend being happy. You don’t have to do that to yourself. Be very clear about this - it’s not them doing it to you; it’s you doing it. And you have the choice not to.
Another person’s act of unkindness or unfairness only hurts just so much - you walk away and it’s done. But the sadness, anger, jealousy or resentment that you hold in your thoughts, and replay over and over in your mind, continue to burn deeper and deeper into your heart. Not only that, but these thoughts held in mind will attract more of the same kind of unhappy experiences into your life. Let them go. You can give them up and put them off your shoulders and out of your life by choosing to do so.
Anger and sadness are both very uncomfortable emotions. They were caused by an event that has passed, but they hang on, and come between you and the other people, events, and experiences you could be enjoying now in the present. The minute the unkind act is done, it ceases to exist, except as you carry the images and emotions of it in your mind. You can let them go, if you choose to.
Please choose to. In the Middle East, tribes and governments have been at bloody war with each other for thousands of years, because it is the social tradition to avenge perceived wrongs - to hold the debt forever until the revenge is complete. But it never is.
The suicide bomber is told that he or she is a martyr, and that God will give them extra-wonderful gifts and status in heaven. Simple logic tells us that God does not take sides. And since nobody knows after thousands of years who committed the first wrong, each act of revenge requires another act of revenge in return, over and over for more thousands of years and it is still going on today, because nobody will let go of the merry-go-round of death and destruction. And yet the majority of the people, like people everywhere, just want to be happy, raise their children, and live decent lives.
This is not about the religions of the Middle East - these religious faiths are beautiful and call for love, honesty, forgiveness and generosity, just as most world religions do. It is individuals and social rules that have created the agony and turbulence, there and elsewhere in the world, which never seems to end.
You can’t change that in a day, or a year, but you can begin to change the world right where you are, right now, by changing what you choose to give and get in life. Every single soul that chooses kindness instead of hatred, tips the balance of the universe. Every time one person refuses to feed visual violence to themselves and their children, it tips the balance. Every time you struggle and succeed in refusing to harbor fear or anger or resentment - not because it’s “a sin” but because it hurts you - you are tipping the balance of your own life and the life of humanity towards more joy, more abundance, and more of the love of God/the universe that is waiting patiently for you to accept and receive it.
The world is what it is, for better or for worse, because we have made it that way with our thoughts, attitudes, and the actions they prompt. The world will be what it will be, for better or for worse, because of what we shall make it with our thoughts and attitudes. Thoughts generate actions, and when we consciously choose and manage our thoughts, we actually control and guide our actions. With every thought and attitude toward every one and everything we encounter in our lives, we create the opportunity to either hurt or bless, to either be hurt or be blessed.
You make it happen or not happen by what you believe. And what you give into life will always be what life will return to you. It’s an eternal universal spiritual law; no one can change it. But anybody and everybody can use the spiritual laws to bless their own lives and others, and there are no limitations on this.
You can change your world, that part of it that touches your life, and that energy will radiate out into the wider world. You can choose the ways and ideas of Life - or you can choose the ways and ideas of Death. Please be aware that you are always choosing one or the other - even in the smallest things, hundreds of times every day. Whatever you choose, you have been empowered by your Creator to do so, from the beginning. And so whatever you choose, I ask only this: please be awake, aware, and conscious of what you are choosing.
I hope you will choose Life, and join the quietly growing millions who are. Most of us are ordinary folks who don’t shout about religion in public. Some of us may not subscribe to any particular religious denomination, but simply try to walk honestly in faith every day, whether anybody notices it or not. New Thought is non-denominational. It is Christian in its roots, but respects and honors all faiths.
When you choose Life, it means you endeavor to live mindfully, and do what your heart knows is right, as best you can. We make mistakes, but we remind ourselves to look at life with fresh eyes each day, knowing that there will always be new lessons and new blessings in it, which we can gratefully receive if we want to. These are flowing through life like a deep river, quiet on the surface, powerful underneath. You have a place in all of this. If you want it, choose it.