All connected

Whether we like it or not, we’re all connected, and it is unthinkable to be happy all by oneself.
— The Dalai Lama

The understanding that we, as human beings, are all connected, is not new. But having this understanding, to me, means everything. I know that because of the connection, I also have a responsibility for how I behave as a human being. 

One can be blind to or misunderstand her influence, but it matters. How you speak, the words you use to express yourself, your reactions to others or to the world at large, all of these are energy. If the energy is negative, your inner world and the world in your immediate surroundings are going to feel negative.

Have you ever gone into a room where a fight just broke out or was in the process of starting, and felt the static electricity of something disturbing? The tension in the air? That's because our minds and our emotions are powerful things, and emit a sort of electro-magnetic field. Animals and human children tend to steer away from people who emit a negative field and they flock to those whose energy field is filled with love and positive feelings.

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The amazing documentary “I Am” by film maker Tom Shadyac (of “Ace Ventura” fame) looks to science, religion, philosophy, and many other influences in culture to explain this phenomenon. Tom Shadyac even goes so far as to show that greed and seeking separation is a mental illness. To deny a larger connection, when we live in a world full of people who are essentially, in the building-blocks of our DNA the same, is madness, he decides. 

I was once in a long-term relationship with someone who portrayed what may have been a kind of mental illness. I witnessed his anger, the anguish he expressed and how he pushed away people and pushed away love, even when he desired them the most. I felt unable to connect with him in those moments. Instead, I pulled away too, made myself separate, put him into a different box from mine, deciding there was something wrong with him and I wanted nothing to do with it.

Empathy is part of our natural make up. In "I Am," it is explained that as humans, we naturally care for others. We don't have to learn this trait, we don't have to be told to care. We do it anyway.

You know you care too, and yet there are many wasted opportunities when it comes to showing it. How often do you reach out to loved ones or friends who are going through hard times, to let them know you are there if they want your help? How often do you give alms to the poor, acknowledging them when you see them on the street, and giving them a piece of your abundance so that they, too, can eat or find shelter for the night? How often do you offer your services when you see someone struggling with finding a job, or walking across a street, or dealing with a difficult relationship? How many of those times do you think to yourself “I really should…but…” And then you may later look back at those times and think to yourself “I really should have… Why didn't I?”

Is it fear of the unknown? Perhaps. Is it not wanting to be taken advantage of? If you're seen as charitable and giving, perhaps others will begin to demand it, expect it of you. But history and experience has shown that when you offer kindness to others, even strangers, you get an emotional reward in return, especially if you don't expect anything in return. You are happier when you know you've helped another, and have made a difference in another's life.

The man Narayanan Krishnan is one example of someone who gives endlessly, to the point of devoting his entire life to the homeless in his area of India. It astonished people around the world, when his video went viral on Facebook and YouTube, that there could be someone who is so loving towards these poor, unfortunate people. For those people, whom others would consider to be untouchables, he washes their feet and feeds them. He's a blessing in their lives.

There are, of course, many other examples of this kind of loving behavior. You feel awe of those whose names are mentioned when discussing social reform: Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr, Mother Theresa, etc. They are the good you wish to see in the world. They are looked up to because they didn't accomplish what they did through hate or violence, but through kindness and generosity and sacrifice. We are a better world for their influence.

You can be that influence, too, like educator Rita Pierson talks about in this TED Talk. Each one of us has the power of one. If you have a busy life, do as much as you can, even if it's to yell at your children or pets less, even if it's to think positive thoughts, or to smile more often, or to be more grateful for the things you do have, rather than thinking about the things you don't.

In time, your eyes will open, your heart will begin to open too, kind of like a bulb that was planted in the frost-hardened ground and finally feels the influence of the sun on the soil. Slowly, carefully, it begins to unfold and reach out with her stem from the germination of life that had been still and quiet and in the dark, as it bursts up and forward out of the dirt and into the sunlight.