2010 Reflections: Transformation Amidst a Lack of Harmony

As I reflect on the past year, many things emerge from the depths of my heart, mind and spirit – and in all likelihood – in that order. One of the most compelling realizations that emerge is that I’m undergoing a transformation. Not the kind of transformation one experiences as the seasons pass into the years and decades that comprise one’s lifetime, but a transformation on a grander scale – with inner depth – like the vastness of an ocean’s surface embracing an entire realm below.

While 2010 brought new adventures and validations to my personal and professional work (presenting/publishing at Oxford University), what really stands out is the stark realization of the striking lack of harmony and synchronization our global society has been laboring under for far too long.

While in London, I observed the protests in Trafalgar’s Square – with camps of pitched tents and hand-painted, anti-war signs reflecting the malcontent of souls tortured by the senseless killing and ongoing violence, as the ancient statues and architectural spires stood watch – silent and cold. I was reminded of the late ‘60s and the fearless efforts of countless, nameless faces that bore the brunt of social brutality while engaging in acts of peaceful, civil disobedience. And then, like a surreal dream, I returned home to teach my courses, where the halls of the university were populated by students hypnotized by their Blackberries, Facebook interactions, and never-ending texts – faces downturned and fixated – seemingly oblivious to what was going on in the world around them.

As I reflect on the past year I wonder…when did we stop caring? When did we simply give up and give in to a life structure of superficiality and mindless conformity – devoid of critical awareness – and more importantly a sense of responsibility and personal effectuality? While I strain to keep hope alive and maintain some semblance of faith in humanity, I flinch at a gunshot echoing through my land, and my heart falls as violent tradition claims yet another innocent life – as if death of the helpless somehow equates a badge of honor.

I reflect on the preaching of “religious” leaders who frame President Obama’s acts of global vision and unification as anti-patriotic and treacherous, realizing that, regardless of names and titles, the change is already underway, leaving behind those consumed by fear or the lust for power to their own desperation. Or the well-intentioned pilgrims that visit door-to-door and attempt to convince me that animals are “incapable of love” – when in times of my deepest sorrow, it was my dog and cat who licked the tears from my cheeks.

My transformation has brought on a sense of unrelenting urgency – a nagging impatience as time, moving ever faster, is hurdling us through space as we draw ever closer to our destined zero point, unprepared, unaware, and unconcerned.

I reflect on the wall-sized, black and white photos documenting the aftermath of Hiroshima that lined the campus walls and realize, all too well, that these images of devastation are not a thing of the past – but still, very much, an integral part of our present. And I wonder…what will it take? What word, event, circumstance or impetus must come about before we open our eyes, minds, hearts and souls? And if what has already taken place is not enough to stimulate empathy and regret for all the time and lives lost thus far – then I ask, what, in Heaven’s name, ever will be?

It’s as though we’re each living in isolated rooms behind closed doors that line a darkened corridor. There’s light in each of our rooms, but because the doors are closed, the hallway connecting us remains dark and frightening. If we were to open our doors, light would spill forth – illuminating the pathway – as darkness cannot exist in the presence of light. Perhaps it’s fear of the darkness that keeps us behind closed doors, but withholding our light only adds dimension and strength to that which we fear.

As we move forward into the coming year and beyond, perhaps a few more courageous souls will crack their doors, peer out, and call out to their neighbors across the hall – “come join me – for together, we can light the world!”