A grim morning. In these hours of crisis and conflict, as my brothers and sisters – our international neighbors and family, find themselves in deep turmoil, under extreme physical attack, my heart aches and weeps with Brussels. I know these deliberate invasions, these extremist attacks strike us all and can tear open wounds of pain and fear. What outwardly may explode quickly causes an inward implosion of one’s world, psyche, sense of well-being. I also know and firmly believe such moments catalyse a profound wave of compassion and deep empathy. A re-awakened awareness that we are not, in fact, so very separate or alone at all. That we may, in fact, very much need one another, cleave to one another, and in doing so help one another bear each other’s burdens.
I found these attacks particularly sobering because I’ve just spent the last month running simulations of exactly these sort of disaster scenarios in my work as a private consultant. I’ve spent the last month training representatives from around the globe in how to respond to such events with behavioral medicine. A treatment and clinical approach that engages empathy, connection, and heart. Today I have witnessed those play-pretend scenarios unfold into very real, very intense realities. I pray for my colleagues, my trainees, my global family.
I am grateful for my work. I am grateful for the outpouring of love already emerging. I am also grateful for things like emergency preparedness. (There’s actually an Emergency Preparedness Fair coming up in a few weeks in Encinitas.) But, want to know the best way to help and the best way to fortify against any future threats? Kindness. Like they say, we’re all fighting some kind of battle. Have patience with others, forgive readily, undefend your heart so you may protect and fiercely the things you hold dear and near. Things like integrity and purpose and your connection to the Divine. Actively smile, hug, lean in and outstretch to those around you. Hey, I’ll take a hug. I promise I’ll pay it forward three.
My baby nephew Sammi is the biggest joy-maker I know. He’s got a smile and grin that could melt a Ben & Jerry’s factory. He looks at everyone in the eyes – at the store, on the street, on an airplane, and whether they want to make eye contact or not, waits for them to look back and return his smile (and usually earns a reciprocal laugh.) It’s impossible not to. He’s got no boundaries, no defenses, so he shares his light, laugh and smile abundantly. Strangers have approached his dad, my brother, and told him Sammi changed their day, told his parents this baby is bringing joy to the world.
What a world of difference just a smile at a stranger can create.
Indeed, there is joy in the world. Empathy is what will heal. And joy is what will prevail.
I love you.
I couldn’t do it without you.
And I love that I couldn’t do it with you.