…which is why it has never resolved an issue.
The way of healing is to unearth the pain where the weight has pulled it deeper and deeper into the ground, and for so long that it seemed to have gone missing. Buildings exist atop its burial, forests shadow the truth. Yet as Buddha said, “Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.” The truth, no matter how long it has hidden inside its burial, rises to the top like a hollow body floating. In order to be discovered, it must be seen and, once seen, we must face the weight of the pain.
Pain often begets pain, and fear too often leads to violence. This is what becomes of us when we do not sit long enough with ourselves and go down the path of inquiry. This is what happens when one’s haunting is kept a secret until they’re spotted running in the dark trying to get away from themselves or racing their car into a crowd of people killing and hurting them. Some ghosts can be seen.
James Alex Fields Jr was a visible ghost who lived a haunted life that traced back to childhood, a time when many face various traumas, from neglect and abuse, to the indirect pain of overhearing or bearing witness to hate. I don’t know the details around Field’s childhood only that he was described as being infatuated with Nazis and more akin to a white supremist than not. It must be sad to carry such hate, the kind of hate that infiltrates one’s being and grabs ahold in such a way that they can’t do anything other than seek to destroy others. There isn’t any love there, no joy, no happiness, no light, only pain and an inner torture that asks to torture others.
Last summer in Charlottesville, Virginia, Fields took his car and pretty much took to mowing down those protesting a white nationalist rally. His hate—the very reason for such a protest—took the life of a young lady and injured many others. This is the unearthing. This is the haunting coming to life and revealing the shadow. Everyone has a shadow, yet not everyone lives there in the dank dark of the shadow’s shadow, that place of no return. Yet it isn’t until we see such hate that we can heal.
So many are right there teetering on the edge leaning in the direction of their shadow’s shadow, yet when they read or hear about people like Fields they have an opportunity to stand more erect, and to pause a while longer, perhaps long enough to sit and reassess. Everyone has pain, yet our pain does not have to be projected onto the world around us. We can be brave enough to seek what is needed in order to heal, because acts of hate and violence offer no healing. They only cause more pain as the perpetrator is left with the stickiness of such hate on their hands that the very reminder feeds the seed of its source. It is a cycle, and we can only break these cycles when we unearth the pain.
Fields has been charged with 30 crimes including one hate crime. He’s 28 years old, which in many ways means he never had an opportunity to get up and running in his life, yet he used his short amount of time to cultivate hate. I am sad for him, yet not sorry for him. There is a difference. Compassion can be spread far and wide even when we neither understand nor agree with the actions of others. I think about the pain he carries. I also think about the pain he caused and the lives he forever changed. Some wounds never heal, and the scars left are reminders of what was and what will no longer be again.
May there be peace.
It’s hard to say where our society is headed, yet I believe in contrast. I believe that everything will experience the opposite at some point, which means this level of hate, and so many other forms, will not sustain itself forever. There will be balance. The pendulum swings far left and then far right before it finds comfort and calm in the middle. We need only keep our focus on the rising of good and the lowering of ill. We need only begin to turn within and tend to our wounds ensuring we aren’t punishing others for our own pain. Your pain doesn’t belong to me, and mine doesn’t belong to you. We are responsible for finding our path to healing and for spreading the word when we find freedom that others might be led to find their own.