I just watched a Netflix video of Trevor Noah: Son of Patricia. I always enjoy Trevor’s humor, as it touches into cultural and racial issues that may be hard to talk about in other contexts. In this particular comedy routine, he spends a good bit of time around how he feels when people call him the “N” word. Apparently, in his mother’s language, this particular word, or the sound of it, means “to give”, so it can bring a warm feeling to him when people shout it at him.
As I watched this video, it got me to thinking about how violent some words can be and how we might respond to these words without adding to the violent energy behind them. Trevor talked about how his mother taught him to receive racial taunts, fill them with the love of Jesus, and send them back. Hearing this got me to thinking about all the sharing I’ve done around heart perception and intelligence, and how the fundamental energy of the heart is a kind of fierce love. Trevor’s mother spoke to a powerful energy reality defined by her religion, but it’s also valid in a broader way—by filling words of hate with love, she transformed their effect on her and contributed something positive to world at the same time.
For this week’s practice in conscious living, I invite you to pay attention to how you respond to words of hate. In the unfortunate reality that we live today, with leadership in this country using words of hate as a regular way of communicating with others, we have countless opportunities to respond to hate speech with an intention to meet it with love. This doesn’t mean that we don’t want to push back, protest, or let people know how inappropriate and wrong it is to speak to others with violent language. Instead, it underscores the reality that we can’t control what comes our way. All we can control is how we choose to meet and respond to it. We have a constant choice not to add to the violence that currently characterizes our interpersonal world on a global scale.
What can help with this practice is to remember to engage the experience from your heart intelligence. It also helps to remember that anyone who uses violent language reveals who they are, not who you are. Our heart intelligence knows this automatically, as its orientation is toward connection and compassion. When we feel connected, we can more readily access this compassion for people who find it necessary to use violent language to deal with difference, to express their fears, to attempt to control what’s unfolding in their lives. This doesn’t mean we agree with them. Instead, we recognize that anyone who uses violent language vividly reveals their own vulnerability and fragility.
As with all these practices, the opportunity here is to delve more deeply into what contributes to, or what takes away from, our internal quality of life. Many people find that living from their heart adds to their quality of life, as it supports a more constant experience of connection. Having curiosity as your constant companion also helps with these practices, as it allows you to wonder how working with them might have a positive impact on your internal life. And, please remember to pat gently on the head any judgments that may arise as you do this practice, allowing them to move on through without your having to do anything with, to, or about them.