Reflections about Responsibility – February 11, 2021

Watching the courage of the House Managers of the impeachment trial for the former US president as they presented compelling evidence about evil actions, I realized something profound about myself. I know with absolute certainty that people are born in a state of original sanctity. I knew it even as an infant before my first birthday.

I often think of the question Phillip Zimbardo wanted to explore in his infamous study, The Stanford Prison Experiment.

“What happens when good people are put into an evil place? Do they triumph or does the situation dominate their past history and morality?” (Philip Zimbardo)

At least for me, I know I had choices. And I didn’t always make the right one. I was not yet five years old when I stopped eating because life was too painful. At thirteen, I tried to end my life again, unable to find a way to reconcile the senseless violence all around me that was so at odds with what I knew to be true. The father who beat me and the mother who helplessly watched were not evil. They were in pain. Life had wounded them in ways that left them unable to do otherwise. It took my daughter’s birth to force me to finally decide to stay despite the pain of witnessing so many people who carry soul-deep wounds, myself included.

The responsibility of caring for a tiny infant in a crazy world felt so daunting. Ultimately, I realized that I couldn’t do it alone, so we set off on a journey. Though I didn’t consciously realize what I was seeking at the time, now, I know. The question that inspired me was different than the one Zimbardo asked. I wanted to know if good people could work together to create and sustain sacred places.

I searched in many places, among them communes and intentional communities, health service agencies, state governments, tribal communities, and educational settings. I discovered it is possible to create sacred spaces for brief moments of time with great effort, but they are so easy to destroy. In the past 50 years since my daughter was born, I have tried to create both real and metaphoric gardens wherever I worked to encourage plants and people to blossom.

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Recently, though, I discovered something important and shared it in an email to a dear friend.

“I truly wish people didn’t feel the need to rely on leaders or ‘experts.’ I spent much of my career trying to help people learn to see their own beauty and find their own power within. Yet I often failed to see my own strengths and beauty. It’s taken me a lifetime to realize I am not responsible for others’ choices. I am only responsible for my own.”

I sincerely hope that the courage and dedication of the House Impeachment Managers will encourage US Senators to decide wisely. There is much that has always been imperfect about this colonial nation, but in its defense, it nonetheless has embodied the potential to inspire the best in people. We have all witnessed yet again how easy it is to incite people to behave in angry, violent, destructive ways. It need not be so.

Regardless of the Senate’s decision or the distorted beliefs and despotic behavior of a former president, his enablers, and his followers, I will do my best to continue planting gardens, both real and metaphorical, wherever I go. I have no power to change others, but I do carry a responsibility to breathe the essence of who I am into what I do. I also carry the responsibility to be grateful for all of the gifts and friends I have encountered in my journey, and all of the people who have continued to share their light because it’s the essence of who they are.

43 thoughts on “Reflections about Responsibility – February 11, 2021

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  1. Great post. I agree that we have to be the change we want to see in the world. The former President brought out the worst of us. I found myself angry and I’m working on restoring my inner peace❤️🇺🇸Take care😊

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    1. Sue, thank you so much for your kind words and thoughtful comments. It is hard to hold on to hope some days, and yet your lovely poems and artwork continue to offer inspiration. Sending my gratitude and best wishes. 💜

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Carol, Tubularsock is in total agreement with your thoughts and your actions on this issue. It was very inspiring to read.

    Tubularsock has practiced non-violent resistant all Tubularsock’s adult life and too has attempted to grow the garden of peace. But that is on Tubularsock’s good days.

    On days that Tubularsock watches Congress do damn near anything, scud missiles always comes to mind. Tubularsock meditates to shift this entire hostile thought pattern but all that seems to happen is in Tubularsock’s mind’s eye, the cross hairs of the target comes to mind.

    Oh well, one does has to have a hobby. KA-BOOM!

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  3. I know well the painful experience of being born into a senseless violent world. For that reason, I never wanted to bring children into this world, but the Universal Mind had other plans. It’s a terrible burden to be able to see the darkness around us when others do not. Perhaps, for that we were born: to show the way forward into the light. I can reveal the darkness, but, like you, I have no power to change others. It depends upon each individual to take that courageous step into the light. It will be interesting to see how many of our US Senators possess the courage to do what is right for our nation.

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    1. Thank you so much for sharing such important feelings, thoughts, and insights, Rosaliene. I suspect we both knew what the outcome of the impeachment vote would be, Only time will tell whether things will improve. Still, dear friend, I am deeply grateful for the light you continue to share. It matters! 💜

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  4. Carol, I want to thank you for the sacred garden you introduced me to through Rupert Ross and his exploration of Aboriginal justice with its emphasis on teaching and healing rather than punishment. It has had a profound effect on my thinking and hopefully on my behavior. It is a garden I have to return to multiple times each day.

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  5. Regarding your comment, “I discovered it is possible to create sacred spaces for brief moments of time with great effort, but they are so easy to destroy,” you might find it interesting to read Aldous Huxley’s final novel, Island. In it he pictures a utopian society that uses sacred herbs for spiritual development, but when oil is discovered on the island, it is soon infiltrated by oil company men. You can guess the rest. But it’s an apt parable for what is happening now in some respects. Remember that the mainstream media is no longer a reliable source of information, owned as it is by only six people on the planet, all of them partnered with aspects of what might be called the “evil empire”: Big Oil, Big Pharma, Big Tech, and Big Government. They need people to demonize as a means of keeping the public divided and trapped in the reptilian brain instead of pursuing genuine spiritual growth. Huxley foresaw this with stunning clarity.

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful comments, Carrie, I would love to hear what you have to say and hope you feel comfortable sharing here as a reply or via email. Sending love and blessings to you, too, dear friend. 💜

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Nice thoughtful post Carol. I mostly agree and believe we each need to step up our responsibility and care for each other and the planet. I hope we have inspired leaders, but we can’t count or wait on them. In fact, I believe our political and economic systems are corrupted by big money and corporations reinforcing the need for each of us to step up. Sorry for the diatribe!

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    1. Thank you for your thoughtful comments, Brad. I appreciate the important insights you shared about the oppressive power corporations exert over economic and political institutions. I would add education and health care to the list. Sadly, an increasing number of people are caught on the treadmill, merely trying to survive, with little time or energy to envision other alternatives. As you eloquently point out, it is up to each of us “to care for each other and the planet.” Sending my gratitude and best wishes to you. 💜

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  7. Lovely reflection. Gratitude, compassion, kindness and courage are foundations of sacred communities. We’ve been blessed long enough to realize this in our own lives and to accept the responsibility of sharing these gifts with others. And I’m grateful to have you and your insights in my life.

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    1. Dear Skywalker, I am deeply grateful for your kind words and for the profound insights you have continued to share over the many years of our virtual friendship. Sending love and warm wishes. 💜

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  8. What a lovely post, Carol, and I needed to read it and absorb your wisdom today. I’ve been feeling depressed and angry that fear and depravity seemed to win again. But you’re right that there were brave, good people there too, presenting the truth with dignity even when they knew they wouldn’t prevail. I need to turn my focus to that which is kind, generous, and peaceful, put my energy there and make it grow. Thank you. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for sharing such thoughtful comments and kind words, Diana. Thank you also for the deep kindness you show to others during difficult times and the stories you share about worlds that could be. 💜

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    1. Ah, Pam, thank you so much for your kind words. How I wish more Senators had demonstrated courage and wisdom instead of venal self-interest. But I am grateful for blogging friends like you who continue to demonstrate care for others and the earth in your writing and the work you do. 💜

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  9. So uplifting. Thank you. You’re preaching to the choir in here, but obviously you’ve spent your life breaking boundaries and reaching out far and wide. Imagine the good juju you have hanging over your head! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hi Carol! I love this post. You seemed to reach into the depths of my soul and pulled out all the thoughts that I have been thinking of late. After reading this post I also realize why we have “flocked” together…birds of a feather. I did not know your background…we have had similar upbringings. I posted today and in it is a poem of how I viewed my upbringing as living in a (not so) FUNHOUSE. Things were distorted, that’s for sure, but there was always a depth of truth that existed inside…where I knew there was a different…better way.
    I send you all beautiful blessings…and I thank you for sharing from your soul. Authenticity is beautiful ❤

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  11. “Reflections” a more fitting series title, there has never been Carol 😊. And what is it that makes those who have witnessed and survived abuse turn away from it, speak up about it, and encourage and support others? I don’t know why but I think of it as an “ember”. Often out of view, only allowing it to glow when it feels safe. I can’t stop thinking you describing your abusers not as evil but as a product of a tough life…as tough as it is, at some level, I tend to agree that people aren’t evil but evil is an entity unto itself….Choosing not to hate and forgive but not forget, is that what the “ember”is? Peace to you my friend.

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    1. Such deep and powerful reflections, Ray. I agree with you about evil being “an entity unto itself.” I remember a dream that I had long ago. In my dream, I was covered with wounds and struggling to breathe. The guide who sometimes speaks in my dreams told me that I needed to acknowledge that evil exists or I would die from the evil another was sending my way. The guide repeated the warning three times. The first two times, I replied that I honestly couldn’t believe that evil exists, and each time I grew sicker and weaker. I finally agreed after the guide’s third warning, and I felt myself grow stronger and then I awoke. I have made some powerful enemies in my life, and at least one carried bad medicine. I had to intervene to protect others from her and I am sure she carried a grudge. We were both presenters at a conference on the Queen Mary in Long Beach California at the time I had the dream. I admit that I was terrified when I awoke and ready to pack my bags and catch the first flight I could! But I had work to do so I stayed.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for choosing kindness my friend. I like the phrase “made some powerful enemies” , yes!! , having enemies doesn’t make you a bad person, it’s a sign of understanding your values. ❤️

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