a world

We Really Lose Everything When Love Is Not Our Truth.

Recently, my good friend Jena Schwartz shared the following quote on Facebook.

“The moment we begin to fear the opinions of others and hesitate to tell the truth that is in us, and from motives of policy are silent when we should speak, the divine floods of light and life no longer flow into our souls.” ~ Elizabeth Cady Stanton

It was exactly what I needed to read, as I pondered the words inside my head that didn’t yet know what they wanted to become, and the conflict within me. As I tried to reconcile the things that I see and read and those which I know without seeing. As I wondered where to speak and where to stay silent and just how useful online activism and my social media musings could possibly be when everything is so raw and painful.

And then there is the silent and steady knowing of my soul and the questions and truth of my heart (which are sometimes exactly the same — because questions often lead us to the deepest truths).

What is most human here? What most joins us to one another? Where can we reach into the pain to bring us closer? Where does the compassion live?

What is the truth? What is the truth? What is the truth?

The truth is that we are always more the same than we’ll ever be different.

The truth is, the judgment of a life without the living of it will always be in some ways false.

The truth is, this world is in deep conflict.

The truth is, some pain is impossible to comprehend.

The truth is, we can’t solve a damn thing without being grounded in love and the unquestionable truth of our shared humanity.

So then the truth is this: we are all the people who died — in Paris, in Beirut, in far off corners that we’ve never even heard of. We are the cost of war. We are all faces we’ve never seen, and names we cannot pronounce. We are those who are forever gone.

Yes, we are the dead.

And we are those who are flooded with fear. We are those who will never be the same and who are filled with sounds and sights that will never go away. And those who are afraid that they are no longer safe in their homes or their city.

Yes, we are the survivors.

And we are those who have lost home, and lost family and lost everything, lost everything, lost everything. And who need everything and must wait for what can be given to be given — or not, depending on what is chosen by those in positions of power and privilege, who still have the ability to choose. We are living in the camps. We are sleeping on the hard earth. We are walking. We are walking. We are walking. We are hoping that an end will come. We are those who, despite all, are still here, still alive, still holding on to hope.

Yes, we are the refugees.

We are the children without parents and the parents without children. We are those for whom nothing can ever be the same. We are the ones waking up and for a second forgetting, before reality floods us again, and we are brought to our knees by that primal, keening wail and the knowledge of what will never be again.

Yes, we are the mourning.

We are those who have been forced by things which we cannot even process to do things that we never thought we could ever do. Things for which there seemed no way out, but for which we will forever carry shame. Things that birthed the echos of trauma that will forever live in our bones. We are those who are grasping to hold onto our connection with our own humanity. We are those for whom that connection is already gone.

Yes, we are the soldiers.

We are those who will be judged, because of color of skin or style of dress or truth of faith and belief. We are those who are picked up and thrown into a big bucket labeled Muslim as if the religion we were born into or chose willingly and within which we walk through our days in peace and service and light has become something that is synonymous with evil. We are those who have once again become something to be feared and shunned.

Yes, we are the Muslim community.

And we are those who do the killing. Those filled with rage. Those indoctrinated into extremism. Those within the most hated groups. Those who have done the most horrific things. And this is the hardest one to accept. The hardest truth to swallow. The deepest place of the shadow. That we all carry within us the brightest light and the darkest dark. That we cannot reach the fullest truth of our shared humanity, without also shining the light into the parts we would rather deny connection.

Yes, We are also those who dwell in the dark.

If we cannot accept this, if we are not all of these — then we create a group who is other. Who is beyond. Who is outside. Who is either more revered or less human.

And in this sense of otherness, something exquisitely human is lost.

Because here’s the thing. We are all made of stardust. Breathe ii into our lungs every single day. And breathe it out again. We’ve all got sparks of the same light and the same dark mingling within us. And when we don’t see that. When we refuse that truth — when we make some like us and some not. When we choose fear over love. When we choose judgment over faith. When we choose to close ourselves in a box of like things and people and sounds and faiths and language, and refuse to see the breathtakingly beautiful humanity that lives outside of this. When we choose prejudice over activism. When we choose pain over peace.

That’s when we really lose.

Today I deeply grieve the lost. I feel the fear and the anger and the vast unknowing of how to respond to extremism and terrorism and hate. I feel an uprising of compassion and empathy and helplessness and power. I wonder how I will ever make even the slightest shred of difference. I wonder how I cannot.

And I feel love. Always love.

Because the political is personal. And the personal is political.

Because of our shared humanity is the most fundamental thing.

Because Muslim is not a synonym for terrorist or for ISIS and we must to stop talking and acting as if it is.

Because Love. Because Love. Because Love.

And that is the truth.

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Jeanette LeBlanc
Jeanette LeBlanc is a writer, photographer and inspirationalist. She regularly consumes ridiculous amounts of dark chocolate, craves the sound of crashing waves and wishes people would stop putting olives on pizza. She has a love affair with words (all of them, especially the bad ones) and is inspired by the intersection of shadows and light. Hopelessly idealistic and impossibly pragmatic, Jeanette fully believes that she will one day earn a very good living with her camera and her writing. In the event that Plan A doesn’t work out, she is willing to settle for a huge lottery win, or the generosity of a very rich benefactor. Either way, she has no intention of being a starving artist. Jeanette lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her delightfully unruly children. Jeanette writes about life, love and beauty and creates inspired design at Peace.Love.Free. Her fine art prints are available for purchase here.