The message that the recent #Christchurch attacks sends, loud and clear, is that of the serious need for self-reflection.
What these recent attacks highlight is the incomprehensible amount of fear and prejudice that lies deep within many of us. I speak even with regards to myself.
Within each of us, no matter how well-meaning and kind, exists prejudices that we aren’t even aware we have.
Prejudices that have been engrained from a lifetime(s) of unhealthy cultural conditioning, some ancestral patterning, some media driven, all destructive, fear-inciting thought patterns, that have developed within us layers upon layers of false stories, and prejudice. These prejudices are silent and woven deep into the fabric of our every thought and interaction in this world.
The reason we are not aware of these prejudices is because we have never been taught how to shine a light within, and be honest enough with ourselves to acknowledge them.
Through #Sound and Deep Listening practices, we learn how to cultivate a quiet mind, we learn how to listen, and to hear the voice within.
We have been told time and time again that there is ‘not enough in the world for everyone,’ a tangible example of this are people suffering from starvation in a world that is so abundant. This ideology of scarcity not only incites fear, but fuels the 'us against them mentality' and superiority complexes such as white supremacy.
While we may think we are nice, kind-hearted people, I thus implore you to look deeper within yourself, quiet your mind, ask yourself difficult questions, and notice the response in the physical body, the response in emotions.
I suspect that below the surface of conscious thought lies many fears and prejudices that you didn't even realise you had, because you never took the time to question them or look deeper, and why would you, this requires a skill of self-awareness, self-reflection and it is not a skill we are ever taught. Yet, it happens repeatedly throughout life that we react in ways that are a reaction to fears and prejudices, or repressed emotions.
Think how many times have you lashed out at your brother, wife, child, friend, or the shop owner because you were stressed at work, or aggravated by something that happened to you an hour ago, or yesterday, or because you were simply just frustrated or dissatisfied with your own life, or worse, you created a story about someone based on what someone else told you about them?
Afterwards, did you ever stop to reflect on your behaviour, trace the emotion back to a cause or false belief system engrained in you, acknowledge it, take responsibility for it, seek to fix it, reprogram it?
I then ask you this, “Just how much 'stuff' have you pushed down that you’ve forgotten about?” That 'stuff' which I speak of is that same 'stuff' that gets locked away in our unconscious/subconscious part of our minds and it is that 'stuff' which informs each and every thought, and interaction we have in the world.
Thus the dire need for us to reflect more deeply within ourselves becomes magnificently apparent.
It can be as simple as putting time aside at the end of each day to reflect upon our actions and reactions; see where we may have been biased or driven by an unconscious prejudice or a past pain. Once we identify it, we can acknowledge it, and sometimes just the acknowledgement is enough to heal it, then we can grow and change accordingly.
Last night I had an incredibly humbling opportunity to do just that.
I was leaving the mosque in Melbourne, entering the carpark it was dark and there was a young man outside clearly distressed. He was bent over with a back pack, his belongings scattered over the ground. He was talking fast, and senselessly, saying that he just needed a moment to reorganise his things, that his father didn’t love him, he was sorry, and that he was not there to harm anyone.
I was with five Muslim brothers, all of us leaving after the gathering. I tried to be non-judgmental and open-hearted to this young, white man, but inside I feared that amongst his belongings was a weapon and that perhaps inspired by recent events, he had come to incite harm.
Instead of walking closer to see if the man was ok, or needed help, I walked to my car. I sat in the car and waited until he had collected his things and he walked away, which took about ten minutes, all the while he continued to constantly speak senselessly, saying he was sorry, his dad didn't love him.
As I sat there I sent the man love, but tears welled up in my eyes and my heart ached with such deep sorrow. Sorrow that I didn’t have the courage or compassion to see if the man actually needed help. I saw a version of my higher-idealised-self walking over and helping the man pack his bag, offering out my hand to help him stand up and hugging him with compassion, human-to-human, heart-to-heart, soul-to-soul. But that idealised version of me, stayed idealised.
I considered what a true, compassionate, non-judgmental person would have done, and I realised my fault: I needed to have acted with greater love and compassion. I needed to have not acted with fear. I needed to have acted with an open-, non-judgmental heart.
If you stretch towards me your hand to kill me, I will not stretch my hand towards you to kill you. 🙏🏾 #quran 5:28
I thought of Hati Mohemmed Daoud Nabi – the man at the front of the mosque on the day of the shootings – and I immediately understood what incredible love and compassion Mr. Nabi had in those final moments of his life when he uttered the words “Hello, Brother” to welcome his murderer in.
In that instant sitting in my car, I vowed to recall Mr. Nabi’s words going forward when I feel threatened by fear, or in the grips of my prejudices. To follow his example, act with courage, offer love no matter what illusion of danger appeared. And, if couldn't do that, to be self-aware enough to reflect afterwards, and to see when I didn’t offer love and should have.
It sounds cliché, and the word fear is thrown around so much these days, but we simply cannot let #fear win; it's what inspirers of hate and conflict want. We must each take responsibility for ourselves, look within, identify where hate, fear or unhealthy repressed emotions exist, and seek to improve. It is not just our responsibility to ourselves, but our responsibility to humanity.
It should be a fundamental goal in our lives to each rid ourselves of any hate and prejudice, until we reach the point where we can walk into any given situation completely empty, a blank canvas, where we are able to see everyone as a brother or sister and are able to connect heart to heart.
❤️RIP Hati Mohemmed Daoud Nabi, may your memory be forever held. May your journey beyond, and that of each of the other 50 courageous souls whose lives were lost, be one of peace. May the lives taken be a perpetual reminder of how to act with love even in the face of hate.