Someone said to me recently that when they hear a speaker, they want to be uplifted. Perhaps there is no real argument with that. We are inundated daily with tales of human suffering, injustice, dishonesty, greed, and deliberate destruction. Certainly we need all the light we can get in this darkness. But I have a slightly different take on the voices I want to hear. While I hunger for words of hope and possibility, I also want to know the truth, and it is often the most disturbing truths that provide the greatest motivation for healing and change.
I love nature programs. I love being witness to the exquisite beauty, astounding diversity, and miraculous functioning and interconnectedness of all life. But inevitably, along with the wonder and gratitude I feel watching a bee dancing directions to the nearest field of flowers, inevitably today I will also be faced with images of emaciated polar bears swimming hopelessly in open arctic waters where once upon a time, before global warming, gigantic ice floes provided them footing for hunting seals, for staying alive. Inevitably I will be faced with the not so pretty underbelly of the toll we humans have taken on our habitat and all its other inhabitants, to say nothing of the harm we have done to ourselves. It is no longer viable for us as a species to look only at stunning images of coral reefs and sea turtle eggs hatching on a far away beach; I think it goes without saying now that we have to look, too, at what is killing them off and very potentially killing us as well.
Otherwise, we are like a very ill patient who doesn’t want to feel the tumor growing under his skin, remove it, and find out what caused it in the first place. Going to a doctor may not be “uplifting” but it holds the hope of life-saving information and intervention! We are faced with so many terrifying truths today—environmentally, politically, socially, economically, religiously, sexually, and psychologically. Being a psychotherapist has taught me that learning how to face and work through our most painful truths, and all the negative beliefs and coping mechanisms that have run our lives, is the doorway to mental health. Being a spiritual seeker has taught me that understanding, embracing and dispelling all the distortions of our ego consciousness is the doorway to awakening into our true Divine nature. This kind of work and the conversations it requires may not feel any more “uplifting” than opening up an infected wound—but they heal!
In fact, revelation of what has kept me bound is as uplifting as my most heart-pounding moments of Divine connection. They are inseparable.