There is a certain amount of "Ohnmacht" I experience when thinking about the horrific act committed in Las Vegas last night. "Ohnmacht" is a German word that translates into powerlessness. However, this translation does not do the word much justice as its meaning and how it impacts me goes much further than that. Even if you do not understand the word, you might experience with me what I mean—a senseless drag through a persistent sludge of an accumulation of all the hate, despair, and hurt that has ever been experienced by everyone, everywhere.
How can we make any sense of this senseless act? And, even more importantly, how can we bring ourselves back into alignment with our human and spiritual selves so that we continue to move towards personal transformation despite these many moments of utter hatred? In moments like these, I like to take a deep breath and let myself relax into my human and Divine experience. I find comfort in meditation as I pray affirmatively for what I desire: world peace, endless compassion, comfort for those who are suffering, and understanding for those who see things differently than I.
I am comforted in the truth that "God is never absent from me." Yet, I sometimes struggle to really get it. What I mean is that I can bring up the words in my mind and I can dwell on it for a little while, yet, I might fail to bring it alive in me, with all my heart, mind, and soul. There is only one presence and one power, and I am that. I keep reminding myself that this is the truth, a truth far beyond my everyday opportunities to be right, a right that is so limited and culturally tainted, a right that is far less valuable in the end than what connects us all—that universal truth.
I am tempted to come up with a perfect scripture verse to let you all know that "all is well." Yet, I resist this temptation because it would not be honest. I don't think all is well at all. How can anyone think that killing over 50 people can ever be well? It is simply not. So, how do we cope? How do we find a way of dealing with this "Ohnmacht?" For sure, we pray, and we meditate, and deny the power we give to our fears, and we affirm the goodness in our lives...and move on. But, there is more, isn't there? I suspect you all feel it as much as I do, and I imagine you are burning to find out as much as I do.
See, I am all up for prayer and meditation, denials and affirmations. I revel in the opportunity to talk about Unity's principles and how wonderfully they apply to our lives. Whoever knows me or has ever listened to me speak on our spiritual principles would attest to that. But today, I just think it is not enough. Today, I think we need to take action. Today, I think we need to be rebels or radicals, just as Jesus Christ was in many ways. Today, we need to remind ourselves not only to love one another and love our enemies but to reach out to those who cannot bear it any longer. Today, we need to practice Unity's fifth principle—action. We need to become active.
Yesterday, I gave a message on Psalm 23. If you missed it, check out our Facebook Live recording. Together, we explored some of the deeper meanings of this psalm and how it can be applied in our lives. One of its significant revelations is about the walk "through the valley of the shadow of death" and how we will "fear no evil...[as God is] with [us]." We seek comfort on the outside. Yet, true comfort comes from within. Whenever our world seems to collide in violent ways, we still may hold onto the "peace of God, which surpasses all understanding" (Philippians 4:7).
There is no clear recipe how to deal with tragedies such as the Las Vegas shooting. However, there are some hints as to how to be with ourselves despite our circumstances. For one, we must remind ourselves that we are a part of this wondrous world of spiritual expansion that includes all of us without judgment. Then, we must extend our experience of non-judgment, and, as a result non-suffering, to our friends, families, and beyond. We hold onto the idea that goodness is the essence of all existence, and we embrace such an idea even when we walk through the darkest valley. After all, we fear no evil because we affirm that God is not only with us but is us. And, even if we perceive evil showing its ugly face as it did last night, we recognize despite contrary evidence that we continue to be part of what life was always meant to be—evil is not to be feared.
As I close in my contemplations about what is happening around us and what we so desperately seek within us, I am reminded of the powerful words spoken through a heavy storm: "Peace, be still" (Mark 4:39). It is a command and a comfort. It is the essence of our being.
Let's not forget to take action in whichever way we see fit. Tragedies such as the one in Las Vegas do not need to happen. The cards are in our hands, and we are the ones called to deal them.
And so it is. Amen.
Jean-Marie Schweizer, LUT