Posted in Inspiration

Why Does the World Have to Be So Mean?

It is said that wisdom comes “from out of the mouths of babes.” The babe, in this instance, is my almost 19 year old daughter, Maggie (Magdalene), who burst into heartbroken tears while watching the CNN report of Omran Daqneesh, the shocked and stunned Syrian boy pulled from a pile of rubble after terror strikes in his neighborhood in Aleppo. Between sobs, Maggie asked me, “Why does the world have to be so mean?”  As a mother, all I could do was hold my daughter and sit with her in the face of this eternally unanswerable question.

Why is the world so mean? Are we doomed as a species to only act in violence?  Why do innocent children have to live in terror, watch their families die, or lose their own lives because of the senseless actions of fearful and angry men (I say “men” here as women are not the ones starting these wars!)?

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To both myself and my daughter, the answer is simple really…..

WE DO NOT have to be so mean. We DO NOT have to act in violence.  Innocent children DO NOT have to die because of the actions of fearful and angry men.

War is a CHOICE. Violence is a CHOICE.  Terrorism is a CHOICE.

The world is mean because people choose to be mean. Human beings act in violence because they choose to act this way.  People go to war because they choose to make war on one another.

But, it doesn’t have to be this way! If we have the power to choose violence, we also have the power to choose peace.

It really is this simple.

We always, and in every situation, have a choice.

The problem is that the vast majority of the human species does not know it has the freedom to choose and they don’t have the tools for making that choice. Choosing something other than hatred, violence, war, etc. starts with acknowledging our fear and having tools for managing this fear.

And the management of fear starts right here in our own homes – first with ourselves, then by being an example and a source of support for those around us. While we may not be able to halt a world hell-bent toward its own destruction, we can stop the day to day destruction that happens in our own homes.  We can choose love instead of fear, peace instead of war, unity instead of perceived separation.  We can sow the seeds of peace within our own hearts and then share them with those around us.  As more and more of us choose love over fear, the world itself begins to change.

So the answer to my daughter’s pleading question, “Why does the world have to be so mean?” is that it doesn’t. The world is mean because people choose to be mean.  And we have the power to choose otherwise.  What are you going to choose?

 

Posted in End of the World Prophecies, Inspiration, New Kids, New World, world changes

Our Kids Are Not Alright!

This week, another one of my daughter’s classmates committed suicide. This young woman is the fifth in a graduating class of 200-some students to commit suicide.  Something here is wrong.  Very wrong.

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I want to begin by presenting what is NOT wrong. The problem is not the school(s).  Oshkosh schools are some of the best in the nation and while our governor keeps whittling away at our budget and other resources that support quality education, our schools have risen above the chaos and are providing the best possible education with the few resources that are left.  In addition, Oshkosh North, the school my children attend, offers a wide range of programs and services to help support their diverse population, many of which have been funded through grants and private donations. The community, teachers, staff and administration have advocated for our students beyond what the budgets would normally provide.

As a subparagraph of the problem not being the school – the problem is not bullying, neither is it a lack of support or counseling services for troubled students. The local schools have an extremely stringent anti-bullying policy and all ranges of diversity are not only honored, but advocated for.  Every school has counselors and social workers on staff who are there to support and advocate on students’ behalf.  The problem is not lack of support.

The problem is not a lack of suicide or mental illness awareness or support. While this may have been somewhat the case with the first two suicides, since that time, efforts, resources, advocacy has been RAMPED UP to educate parents, students, and the community on the challenges of mental illness and the signs of a child or adult in distress.  In addition, there are trained professionals in the community who work specifically to educate the public and to support families on suicide and to support families with a child or adult who is at-risk and to support families who have experienced a death due to suicide.

Finally, the problem is not the parents. I know the parents of some of these children and I can tell you, beyond the shadow of a doubt, these parents have done absolutely everything they could for their children.  They loved them.  They did the best they could to keep their children safe.  They got their children help when help was needed.  They got help for themselves when they were at a loss over how to further help their child.

The problem is not the schools, peers, the lack of mental illness awareness, or the parents.

The problem, and the reason our kids are not alright is:       Our world.

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Our world is a mess. Our world is a mess for all of us – and for some of us, it is just too much to bear.  Let’s look at the facts:

  1. For as long as our children have been alive, THE WORLD HAS BEEN AT WAR.

If it’s not a conflict or a war with a name, (Desert Storm, Iraqi, Afghanistan, Israel and Palestine, etc. etc. etc.) it is “the war on terrorism.” And the worst of all the terrorist attacks have been accomplished right here on our own soil by our own U.S. citizens.  The media does not help in this regard by triggering our fears through sensationalism.  As my son said, “Hundreds of people a year are shot in Chicago and no one cares, but as soon as one guy gets shot in Oshkosh, the whole world is in a state of panic.”  (This also points to media and racial bias which is a topic for another blog another day.)

For our children – the world does not feel safe.

  1. In the U.S. success is determined by external measurements like money, status, power and fame. And some of these measurements are literal – how much money you make, how many time you are Tweeted or your Facebook post gets “liked,” if you have your own reality show or not, and do you measure up to the current standards of “beauty.” For those who do not know their true selves and who have no way of knowing themselves except in comparison to others, success feels like an impossible goal – especially when they look at the TRUTH of our economic situation – which brings me to #3
  2. Education does not mean what it used to. In the old days, a high school education was enough to prepare you for a regular job with a decent rate of pay. Then, college became the necessary gateway to a career, a paycheck and economic security. Then, a master’s degree became the gateway, then a PhD. Now….none of this really matters – and our children know this. A college degree guarantees you nothing, or as a friend of mine told her daughter, “Do what you love because there won’t be any jobs for you after college anyway.” Bleak, but true. As much as politicians are touting the economic recovery and that the “recession is over,” this is not the truth.
  3. The world as we know it is dying. Our children know this and they know that they will be the ones who will be creating the new world. For some, this is just too overwhelming a task. Imagine, for a moment, that you are a player in the Hunger Games and the entire world (as you have known it) crumbles at your feet and you are left with the task of building the new world. While the endless possibilities and the excitement of building something new is enticing for some, for others, it is overwhelming and feels impossible and they shut down under the burden of the task.
  4. And finally….this is the whoo whoo part…..our children are empaths. What this means is that not only are they feeling their own anxiety in the face of a world that is a mess, they are feeling EVERYONE ELSE’S anxiety. They feel the anxiety of their parents, their siblings, their classmates, their teachers, and the entire world around them. When there is a terrorist attack on the other side of the world, they feel it – maybe not consciously, but they feel it. When a weather system is moving through that will cause people anxiety, they know it – again, maybe not consciously, but they feel it. For those that don’t understand the gift of empathy and who don’t have tools for managing this gift, the emotions come out sideways – temper tantrums, disproportionate negative behavior, anxiety, depression – and you guessed it, suicide.

Which brings me full-circle. I don’t know what caused that young woman to jump off the bridge into a freezing and raging river to her death.  What I do know is that her death should not be in vain.  Her death should be another wake up call for us as parents, teachers, and other adults.

Our children are not alright!

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Our children need our help. While we cannot change the outside world, there are things we can do to help our children, and in helping them, find help for ourselves in a messy and broken down world:

  1. Lead them to resources to help them manage anxiety. Resources that have been proven to help manage anxiety include: meditation, mindfulness, regular exercise, a healthy diet, adequate and deep sleep, creativity exercises, being in nature, being with others in healthy community interactions.
  2. Support them in knowing their TRUE selves. Self-knowledge increases self-esteem, confidence, and the ability to be ok with our differences in a world of great diversity, and to weather the storm of other people’s judgements.
  3. Help them develop a different set of values. This starts with us. We need to stop valuing ourselves in terms of money, fame, status, power, and physical characteristics. What we are wearing, whose bag we are carrying and what car we are driving DOES NOT MATTER. These external measurements of “success” or “popularity” do not give us happiness. In fact, all they do is create more ANXIETY. If we want our children to be comfortable in a world that will NOT have the resources in which everyone can be a Kardashian, we have to help them find value in the internals – peace, contentment, joy, and fulfillment in knowing and exercising their gifts. We then need to give them tools for finding this inner peace which leads us back to items 1 and 2.
  4. Support them in their dreams. Our children see and know the new world. They see a world that is free from the separation with which we have defined the world. Instead of separation, they see only oneness. They do not comprehend the separation we keep placing between ourselves and others we view as different from us and they definitely do not comprehend the violence that arises out of these perceived separations. Our children do not see race, religion, sexual orientation, or even gender as barriers, they only see this as the miraculous and amazing diversity among human beings and they seek to know more and to honor these differences. Let’s get out of the way and let them do this, shall we!?
  5. Teach them what to do with Empathy.  Empaths are healers and those with this gift (all of our children) possess this gift because they are here to heal our dying world so that a healthier and happy world can emerge. Our children need to know what to do with these feelings and how to stop taking responsibility for everyone else’s pain. Interestingly, this also brings us back to items 1 and 2.

While we cannot change the world, we can change the world in which we are living and the journey starts within. Let us join together to help our children, and in helping our children, helping ourselves so that we can survive in a world in the midst of change and through our children’s dreams, help to support the birth of a new and better world. Then perhaps these children would not have died in vain.

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Authentic Freedom Academy provides empowerment training for those who want to change their world, which starts by changing the world within.

 

Posted in Empowerment, Inspiration

The Number One Cause of Violence in Our World

Before I answer the question about the number one cause of violence in our world, let me ask you a question:  Have you had enough of the violence yet? If your answer is YES, then please read on.  If you are excited about continuing the cycle of violence in our world by contemplating retaliation and retribution, then don’t bother reading this blog, you won’t get it anyway.  Today’s blog is for those who have ears to hear and for those who have hearts that yearn for an end to the violence and who want to play a role in bringing this violence to an end….once and for all! 

Short Answer: The number one cause of violence in our world is rage over a world that is too small, and feeling powerless to change it.

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Longer Answer: This is not about a world that is literally too small – as in size, shape, volume, etc. Neither is this about a world that doesn’t have enough resources to feed, clothe and house every single human being on this planet (because we DO have enough resources).  This isn’t even about the systems of distribution that have failed in their duty to care for even the simplest needs of the beings on this planet.

No, this is about a deep inner knowing of the SOUL that the lives we are living are WAY TOO SMALL!

Even Longer Answer: The Soul knows who we are, the reason we were put on this planet and the mission we are here to accomplish.  Throughout our life, the Soul tries to communicate this truth to us and draws into our presence opportunities to nurture, cultivate and ultimately live out this call.  The problem is that we don’t know how to listen and the world doesn’t know how to support us in the fulfillment of our Soul’s mission.  When we feel thwarted in the fulfillment of our Soul, RAGE erupts and if we don’t have proper tools for processing our deep-seated anger at not being able to fulfill our Soul’s duty, we either do violence to ourselves or to others.

Perhaps the violence we do to ourselves is internal through all the voices that tell us:

  • You have nothing significant to contribute to this world.
  • Who are you do think you can do/be/…xyz?
  • Good girls/good boys don’t do that.
  • Your family, friends, tribe, church, won’t understand/love you if you choose this path.
  • If you follow the path of your Soul, something in your life will have to change.

Maybe the violence we do to ourselves is the cultivating of resentment, or the suppression, repression, wholesale rejection of our anger – the very voice that is trying to help us understand our Soul’s calling.

The violence we do to others has many faces:

  • Seething resentment
  • Blame
  • Cultivating inner anger or hatred.
  • Making someone else the cause of our world being too small.
  • Physical, emotional, mental, sexual acts of violence.

When enough individuals are unsupported in the fulfillment of their Soul’s purpose, the rage that we hold within us individually becomes a collective rage where pretty much everyone on the planet is pissed off because their Soul is being ignored.  Yes, we have all sorts of coping mechanisms that self-medicate the pain of a meaningless and unfulfilling life (consumerism, materialism, money, power, achievement, fame, status, drugs, alcohol, sex, war after war after war after war), but there are not enough of any of these things, especially war, to satisfy the ache of a soul unfulfilled.  Until we tend to the deeper call of the Soul, we will never be satisfied and will be forever looking outside of ourselves for the satisfaction of that longing.  When we find that none of those things satisfy, we either turn toward more violence, or we WAKE UP and turn within to the ONLY source of the satisfaction that we seek.  This is as true for the young, dark-skinned men who turn to terrorism, hoping it will satisfy a life unfulfilled, as it is for the pasty white guys gathering piles of wealth as the rest of the world is starving.

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Longest Answer: Our world is a mess and it is a mess because for lifetimes, we have not supported ourselves or each other in the QUEST FOR OUR SOUL.  Instead, we have turned to outside perceived authority as the author of our lives and have allowed them to create structures while crafting rules, regulations, expectations, etc. that tell us who we are and the roles we will play in THEIR games.  (hmmmmm…..sounds like Hunger Games).  We have followed their rules because, quite frankly, it is easier.  It is way easier to do what we are told and to follow the 10 rules for “happiness” than it is to take the time to BE STILL and listen for the voice of our Soul.  It is also easier to follow the herd of sheeple than it is to follow our own inner voice and calling.  Listening to the voice of our Soul takes work and it takes, COURAGE.  This is not a journey for the faint of heart, especially in a society that mostly wants us to follow the rules – or at the very least, to follow the crowd.  “Don’t rock the boat.”  “Don’t disturb the status quo.”  “Don’t question, challenge, turn away from what WE want you to hear, know, do.”  These commands are then followed up with the biggest threat in their arsenal – “Do what we tell you or LEAVE.”  And in some places, “leave” means “die”….literally.

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The Solution: As much as we would like to cure the world of its violence, the solution to the problem will not be exacted on a global scale (yet).  Instead, it starts with ONE person – YOU deciding to make a CHANGE.

  1. It starts by turning away from the violence in the world – turn off the TV. Stop watching Fox News. Don’t read (or believe) the newspapers. Find sources of information that are not influenced by the institution of violence and propaganda. If you aren’t sure which ones those are….LISTEN TO YOUR GUT! Your intuition will guide you. (Turning away from the violence doesn’t mean we aren’t informed. Neither does it mean we don’t care, or pray, or hope for a different outcome. We are just choosing not to participate, not to add to it, and not to allow it to harm or influence us toward fear or violence).
  2. The second step is all about SELF CARE! Turn into your SOUL. Listen as it tries to communicate truth to you, your mission, your gifts, your purpose and your call. Learn how to manage your anxiety, anger, frustration, impatience, sense of powerlessness. Find support in overcoming your fears and resistance to your SOUL and in moving through the societal constructs that week to keep you from the path of your SOUL. Find support for living the path of your SOUL. (PS THIS is what I do for a living….if you want support call (920) 230-1313 or email lauri@authenticfreedom.love.)
  3. Find community. You are NOT ALONE in the desire to be free of a world of violence and to live in a world where all people are supported in finding wholeness, meaning, purpose, fulfillment, peace, love, and joy. Find others like you who have had enough of the violence and who are willing to do the HARD WORK of extracting yourself from the herd of mindless sheeple blindly following the voice of fear and who desire instead, to create a new wave – a wave of love that will one day grow large enough to wash the world clean of fear and restore it to the world of love that it was meant to be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Authentic Freedom, Inspiration, Jesus, Lessons

Our Response to Terrorism? LOVE

 Below is a copy of this week’s Weekly Empowerment Newsletter from Authentic Freedom Academy.  This newsletter is usually available by subscription only.  If you are interested in subscribing, click on the Paypal link below:

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November 29, 2015 –First Sunday in Advent

 

Scripture Readings:

Brothers and sisters: May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we have for you, so as to strengthen your hearts, to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones. Amen. Finally, brothers and sisters, we earnestly ask and exhort you in the Lord Jesus that, as you received from us how you should conduct yourselves to please God and as you are conducting yourselves you do so even more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.

1 Thess 3: 12-4:2

 

Additional Readings:

JER 33: 14-26

Ps 25: 4-5, 8-9, 10, 14

LK 21: 25-28, 34-36

 

It All Boils Down to Love

Love. Love is who Jesus came to know himself to be. Love is what Jesus came to teach. Love is what we know ourselves to be and Love is who we are when we follow the guidance and teachings of Jesus. This was Paul’s prayer for the early Christian community at Thessalonica:

May the Lord make you increase and

abound in love for one another and for all,

During this time of global strife, these words of Paul’s are especially relevant. He did not say, “abound in love for some.” He prayed that those who followed the teachings of Jesus would abound in love for ALL. ALL. LOVE ALL.

Loving all includes those we might perceive to be our enemies, including the terrorists who enacted recent attacks in Brussels, Paris, Lebanon and Beirut. It also includes those who perform acts of violence right here on our own soil, each and every day – school shootings, drive by shootings, random acts of violence against another simply because of the color of their skin, or because of what they are wearing or simply because the shooter is afraid.

These are difficult teachings. How do we love those who wish to do harm to people who are strangers to us, or even more difficult, when they wish to do harm to those we love? The answer to this question is hidden in a teeny, tiny word that has been mistranslated in our bible – that word is EVIL.

Evil is a word that is used frequently throughout the Christian scriptures and has been most often interpreted to be somehow connected with damnation. “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” The Aramaic word that Jesus used, specifically when teaching his disciples how to pray, that has been translated as evil, is bisha. Bisha has nothing to do with evil as we understand it. Bisha simply means UNRIPE. Unripe. Unripe. Unripe in the sense of an apple not yet ready to be picked from the tree because it is still too green. This is what Jesus meant when he spoke of “evil” – not something to be condemned, but something to be loved as it continues to find its way to maturity and ripeness.

It is this perspective on “evil” that allows us to move away from our instinctual response to violence which might prompt us to condemn and to want to seek vengeance or retaliation against those who have done harm. Those responsible for acts of violence are not evil in the way that we have formerly understood evil, they are simply UNRIPE. They have not yet learned the love that they are and they have not yet found a way to be that love. They are wounded. They are afraid. They are viewing their life through a limited lens. Perhaps they have been victims of violence themselves. Maybe their basic needs are not being met. Perhaps they have suffered abuse, hunger, homelessness, a lack of belonging, poverty, oppression, etc. etc. etc.

If we proclaim ourselves to be followers of Christ, then the response is clear: We are to LOVE – not just some – but all. This includes the terrorists, those who have acted in violence, and those who wish to seek vengeance on those who have done harm. Love all…not just some, and then perhaps through our loving response, we all shall one day become ripe.

candles prayer

 

Spiritual Practices – Blanket the World in Love

If you are following me on Facebook, you are aware of the 30 day “Blanket the World in Love” challenge. For the next 25 days (I’m on day 5 of the challenge), I am posting a different song each day that speaks of healing and love. I am posting these songs as a daily prayer of healing and love for our world.

My invitation for you is to find one or two songs that speak of healing and love and incorporate these songs into your daily meditation/contemplation/prayer practice. As you listen to the song, imagine the words and intentions of the song going out into the world as a blanket of healing and transformation for our world.

Here are a couple songs to get you started. Feel free to use these, or ones of your own choosing!

Give me Love (George Harrison): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLsKWWF94cw

 

Sanskrit Prayer for Peace (Donna DeLory):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YSb1Q4i8S3k

 

Prayer of St. Francis (Sarah McLachlan)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agPnMxp5Occ

 

Unity – Rumi’s Prayer (Sean Johnson)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVGFCwvfxxE

 

Authentic Freedom

Authentic Freedom leads us to true spiritual freedom – a freedom that is independent of the external circumstances of our lives. This is the freedom that Jesus taught and this is the freedom that lies at the heart of our deepest longing. In connecting with this freedom, we are HOME; or as Jesus said, we are living in the kingdom of God. Authentic Freedom provides the tools and practices to help us move away from the fear that gets triggered (daily) in the human experience and is especially useful when we are faced with the on-going violence and tragedies of our world. Authentic Freedom invites us over and over and over again to turn away from our fears and toward the unconditional and unbounded love of God.

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