Just a couple of weeks ago, I was standing together with my neighbour and some of our kids, when my neighbour shared that they are going to New York with friends and that their friends want to visit Ground Zero. At that point her nine year old daughter piped up, “What is Ground Zero?” We all realized that she hadn’t heard about 9/11; she hadn’t even been born in 2001.
Now how does one answer a question like this without causing unnecessary fear in a child’s mind, or causing any political indoctrination or anger in the next generation? The term “ground zero” is used to describe the point on the earth’s surface closest to a detonation. Is that what her daughter had asked? Or did she rather need to know that—despite events like 9/11 or more recent bomb explosions in 2015—she can allow herself to feel safe in this world? As it was her daughter, I let my neighbour reply and she did a fabulous job of honesty answering while filtering her replies for the mind of a child. Very consciously finding the right words, she explained the events of 9/11 and that they had altered the world.
How do we hold the feeling that this is a beautiful and safe world? Fear is a powerful force. What effects have events like 9/11 had on the world? They increased the “them versus us” experience. The author Oriah Mountain Dreamer on her CD “Your Heart’s Prayer” shares how she and her spiritual friends got together just after 9/11 to pray and be in touch with what was happening in the world and what was reflected inside them. She describes how difficult it was at that time to remember that we are all one.
Listening to her friends, there was a lot of talk about “them” and “they”. Some friends would say, “They (the terrorists) hate the American way of life and want to destroy it!” And some Non-American friends would be concerned not just about the terrorists but also about the Americans and say, “They (the Americans) just want to strike back and bomb somebody, anybody.”
The message Oriah Mountain Dreamer received in one of her dreams at that time was “try saying ‘some of us’ because we are all one human race”. So she started saying, “some of us hate the American way of life” and “some of us just want to strike back” to acknowledge that we create this suffering for us, for the human family.
The next message was to even change the “them versus us” thinking further by using the phrase “part of me”. She began saying, “part of me hates the American way of life” and “part of me wants to just strike back”. Acknowledging that we all have those parts in us as well completely changes our experience.
Separating ourselves from “the others” in our life creates fear. Yet we do this unconsciously all the time. We think of our business versus that of the competition, or of our inheritance versus that of our siblings, or what our mother-in-law or daughter-in-law does differently from us, or what our ex-spouse might be out to get or do to us.
We create our own little ground zeros: The day our competitor underbid us and declared war, or the day our sibling did or said something absolutely unforgivable, or the day our mother-in-law or daughter in law showed their true face and became our enemy, or the day when our ex-spouse betrayed us. How many ground zeros have you created in your life?
We have a choice what stories we want to claim as ours. Let’s rather ask, “What do I share with people in the same business?” Maybe we all want to help others and can relax into knowing that there are enough clients or customers for all of us. “What do I share with my siblings that is way more important than the money?” That might be a common history, or precious memories, or the same blood, or the love for the same parents. “What do I share with my mother-or daughter-in-law?” Perhaps, the love for the same man and for the same children, or being a woman who is doing the best she can. “What do my ex-spouse and I have in common?” We both want the best for our children and are both trying to make the right choices for them and ourselves.
“Them versus us”, or “me versus him/her” mentality means we are choosing separation and judgment over unity, understanding and healing. The first causes fear. It’s the source of competition, stress, ongoing conflict and fights. The latter helps us to realize that the fear we have deep inside can be overcome in favour of a place of love and unity consciousness. That certainly is not an easy task but one worth undertaking.
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