Earlier this week I was visiting Maryland and on this day, September 17th, 1963, a large civil war battle was fought there. More men died at this battle than on D-day in France of World War 2.
It is easy to gloss over history’s facts. For some reason, we think historical people had less emotion or were used to struggle, pain, and loss.
They didn’t. They weren’t.
As I felt into all the emotions that this battle created and all the people who’s lives were changed, I could see remnants still being felt today. The pain of that one day in history has lasted generations. Many are saying that we are currently on the verge of another civil war.
Here are my thoughts.
The civil war was named because it was between citizens of the same nation. (Ironic that civil also means courteous and polite.) It seems to me that we are already engaged against each other in this nation. Our battlefields are online platforms like Facebook, although there have been plenty of face to face combats.
Hate, hurt, sorrow, pain, and anger feel the same within each of us. In our moments of hurt we don’t stop and think, “well, this feeling of hurt isn’t as bad as the wife of a Union soldier”. In the middle of the hurt, we humans simply hurt. So, when you shoot off an unkind remark it can do the same damage emotionally as shooting off a weapon.
I understand and believe that we need to add our mental body and/or our spiritual body into the equation. Emotions shouldn’t always rule the situation, but it’s time they get some recognition. They are a vital and a core part of being human. Emotions must start to get some cred. After all, there is no question that it will only be because of emotions like compassion, love, understanding, and connection that things will change for the better. These emotions come first and then weapons go down. It all starts and stops with our emotions - with how we feel.
Now, because we believe that feelings 150 years ago must not have been the same proves that we haven’t understood emotions and feelings correctly. We have adopted a mind over matter or power-through approach to life more than a go-inside-and-see what’s going on. Instead, we have buried and suppressed emotions. But, just like you can never erase thoughts from the mental body, you can’t erase feelings felt by the emotional body. These emotions swim around the psyche looking for an out and when a thought or experience comes close they are locked and loaded for fire - many times at an exaggerated rate.
Much of the time we are reacting and overreacting to stimulus because of our past buried emotions. There are processes and help to overcome these past emotions. They are simple and I can help. But, it is vital that moving forward we see our emotions and the emotions of others as important and valid. It is important to add emotions to our thoughts and beliefs.
Here is an example.
We may believe that republican (or Democratic) values are correct. When we feel into that belief we might feel proud and patriotic but there may also be traces of defensiveness and anger or righteous indignation. (Our emotional experiences are always a mixture of many emotions.)
It would be amazing to sit with that feeling of pride for a moment. Let that emotion present fully. Notice the thoughts and memories that come up. That feels so good. And it should. Now concentrate on the feeling of anger or righteousness indignation. What are the thoughts and memories there? Are they your experiences or were they someone else’s. If they are yours, is there an action you need to take to return what feels like was lost? Those emotions are valid and justice may need to be served. But most likely not. It is really important in this moment to ask yourself, "are the people on your feed really responsible for these feelings?" Is your hurt different than theirs? Never, it is impossible.
It is vital to get curious about our and other's emotions. Curious is not agreeing with - at least not yet. Information is key. Relating is the way. Understanding brings understanding and when we break down our emotions and really look at them we see a different picture than the one we have been operating from.
For me, it isn’t if there will be a civil war. The battle cries are sung every day online. The question is if the war will come to an end. The question is, will there be peace?