Having had time to process some of my horror and outrage about the Newtown shootings, I’ve had time to muse on the greater implications. Specifically, I’ve begun to wonder what it means to be the shooter. The social isolate who finally cracks, the sociopath who is willing to terrorize, the copycat who phones in the bomb threat. Who are these people who exist on the edges of our society where one of our greatest needs is belonging? What do we do to bring them back into the fold?
I have some favorite stories that I carry in my head as something to aspire to.
A big, drunken man came onto a Japanese subway, terrorizing people as he walked through the car. They shrank away from him, frightened. Until one man stepped up and began talking to the man. Gradually, the big man calmed down, until finally he had his head in the smaller man’s lap, crying.
A man walked into a cabin, directly into the path of a rattlesnake. He froze as the rattlesnake coiled for a strike. The man breathed and expanded and began to meditate on how the rattlesnake was his brother, his ally, his friend. The snake hissed and then slithered away.
The Peace Pilgrim was a 72 year-old woman who decided to walk across America with nothing but the clothes on her back. She wanted to fully experience how God would provide for her. One day, she decided to hitchhike. A car pulled over and she got in. She immediately had the thought, “uh-oh, this was a bad idea. This man is dangerous.” So she put her hand on the man’s elbow and said, “Thank you for stopping. I feel so safe with you.”
After her year of walking, she went on a speaking tour. This man, now a close friend, accompanied her as her bodyguard, saying, “you know, you have to be careful about dangerous people out there.”
OK, let me be clear here–I’m not saying I could do what these people did. I am saying that I want to be able to do that.
At the NRA news conference, the lobbyist said, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” as he suggested that there be an armed guard in every school. Good guy, bad guy. Us, them. Get rid of the bad guys and we good guys will be safe.
I wonder what it’s like to be the bad guys, the ones who are willing to stalk and terrorize? What are they home doing? What is it like to be so much on the outside that the only way to find any significance is to make threats, and even to follow up with violence? What is it like to be so desperate that these men are willing to kill and then kill themselves?
Our animal threat brains know that the first action is to make sure we are safe, to defend against threat. Of course, this is exactly where it gets confusing about who is the good guy, who is the bad guy, as suddenly everyone has a good reason to be violent.
To get out of this endless cycle of escalation, there must be another path. It is the path that Creative Brain offers, where love and appreciation and acceptance take us out of Reactive Brain, the threatened animal response, and into the space of new possibility. Suddenly we might actually be able to step towards the bad guys, step in with them, love them. We might remember that every one of them was a baby who came into this world for their own life purpose.
Having stepped through this doorway of the 2012 earth changes, we’re stepping into non-duality. No good guys, no bad guys. We are the good guys and the bad guys, all wrapped into one. How do we love our animal threat brain so much that when we see it in others our only response is to embrace them, be with them until their reactivity can settle down and they are sobbing in our laps?