If we reduce expectations, create a less-stimulating environment, engage more on a one-on-one basis, focus more on responsibility than instant gratification, take time to connect, establish healthy habits and boundaries, encourage the use of each individual's motivation, stay productive, kind and courteous....then the world will be at peace again. This seems to be the standard for institutional settings, but we must ask ourselves if these settings have made our society as a whole, better, as we expected them to be. The written bylaws that many 'corrective' or 'rehabilitative' settings create to distinguish themselves from other mainstream settings can be intended to re-integrate, but their rigidity can create the fear instead.
Evidence of how this manifests in my own life is illustrated by my tendency to be offended by those who do not see the world as I see it. I fear them. I want to change them. I fear their actions and how they may affect me and my life. Instead I could pay attention to my own experience and let it teach without forcing or willing it on another due to my own impatience and intolerance.
My own reaction is contradictory to my belief system. I believe that we are our enemies, our friends, our family members, our most offensive and exceptional members of the universe. WE ARE ONE ANOTHER.
Last week, I took the time to hear some stories of individuals in recovery and I heard parts of my own story in theirs. I loved them. I felt sad for the pain they endured and their triumph over a negative force in their lives. I suppose that is why I share our story. Our suffering and our triumphs are so unique and yet so universal.
For example, I have recently entertained an isolated setting for my son while he has been in an autism unit at a well-known psychiatric hospital in Rhode Island. Initially I felt like the level of isolation there is so great that it was like having him in prison, yet he had not done anything intentionally harmful. I was so terrified. I still am. I also know that those who work there and make the decisions have love, compassion and great wisdom. And yet with all this expertise and compassion, the engagement level seems very low. I am not certain why, but I know that my own ego has put up walls of fear. The struggle within me is constant and he has definitely been unsafe. Some may even use words such as aggressive, violent and forceful. I am very sensitive to the assumptions and associations that could be made by those who hear or use these words so I myself have purposefullly avoided them.
Recently I read a chapter by Thich Nhat Hanh about engaged buddhism - The societal service of meditation. I read it aloud here. If you prefer to only here my moments of clarity commentary about this passage, they are in the six minute video. The actual reading is in the longer one. My reading confirmed that I want my children included in society...NO MATTER WHAT. This has always been my goal, my belief and my passion behind everything I do. We all must be included in order for our world to truly experience peace and love.
I am humbly meditating on my own ability to create connectedness and reduce my own fear...I hope you will do the same.
Love to you all.