It’s hard to ignore the recent upsurge in disharmony in the United States and Europe during the past few months. In the US, The Klan, neo-Nazis, religious fundamentalists, and radicalized individuals have become more publicly bold.
Police have noted an upswing in the numbers of hate crimes and physical assaults on minorities since last November. As a member of one of the targeted minorities, I’ve become concerned for the safety of all minorities as well as my own. I wonder what I will do and if I’ll need to move somewhere more safe if hate groups become more vocal and active in my area. Although I do my best to look on the bright side of life and put the best “spin” on events, it still seems like the darkest elements of thought and behavior are manifesting in many people.
Much of the world has entered difficult and divisive times and we all are in need of ways to survive and even thrive despite the powerful forces stacked against us. In an increasingly fear-based culture, we need to inoculate ourselves with the inner strength of openheartedness, peace, and love. It is high time for a renaissance of the heart.
Certainly we don’t have to go into denial about the dangers, and negativity around us, but we need to shift into a higher mode of personal and group thinking. Life is much more interesting and beautiful when there are no exclusionary practices, inflammatory speech, and hatred.
Without donning rose-colored glasses or indulging in woo woo, it is possible to live a life that is less stressful, more inclusive, and more peaceful in times of trouble. Changing the way we think not only makes us feel better, it also enables us to become more effective in living. When fear is pushed back, our rational and compassionate modes of thinking re-emerge. Not only do we think better, our bodies feel better when we include the process of thinking from the heart. There is an unmistakeable grace and wisdom that encapsulates our personalities when we actively pursue this renaissance of the heart.
The focus of this mode of thinking is not to proselytize for any particular method or religion. The idea is all about renaissance. Think of the Renaissance that took place in Europe from the 14th through the 17th centuries. It was the revival of art, culture, and scientific thinking. The Renaissance shined the light of enlightenment upon the stale, superstitions and beliefs that held sway during the Dark Ages.
Today, we can have a renaissance of the heart that pushes back the fear, superstition, and hate that is being promoted by people in power these days. If we want to do so, we can reexamine our spiritual roots, be they religious, or philosophical wisdom traditions. This renaissance will help us with a more heartfelt way of thinking and acting towards our fellow humans and the planet.
During this renaissance we can rediscover our interconnectedness with everyone and everything around us. We can understand and practice compassion in the real world without “airy-fairy” escapist fantasy. We can transcend culture, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, race, and religion with clarity, compassion, and humor.
Although the renaissance of the heart can be a cultural shift, it requires honest reassessment and thoughtfulness from each individual. Each person can determine whether to re-enter the best part of their wisdom tradition, or embark on a new path. The renaissance of the heart is a time of contemplation and meditation. It is a time of rediscovering the classical Greek category of unconditional love.
This is the powerful form of love that overcomes fear. With unconditional or Agape love, we see beyond the outer presentation and personality and fully accept the recipients for who they are. This love is a committed, chosen love towards others. It is given without expecting anything in return. It is the love that everyone can give and deserves to receive. Unconditional love goes beyond all categories and belief systems.
Now is the time to begin our renaissance of the heart.