I read a book this week, a fictional story about young people in difficult situations in the second World War. It managed to be a love story set in the very real settings of internment camps, ghettos, and communities running out of food. The book touched my heart and as I was walking into the library, I was thinking of the quote, “those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” Then I returned in my books and headed upstairs, where I saw on the end of the bookshelf, the same quote that I was thinking in the parking lot.
I have met folks on the spiritual path who like to say they have moved beyond the/their past and it doesn’t have any relevance to the present. There’s a term for this: “Spiritual Bypassing.” Briefly it’s when you claim spiritual superiority over a situation instead of facing it.
If, after causing a couple car crashes, someone declared themselves a wonderful driver through their newfound spiritual awakening, but did not also deal with the consequences of their actions, we would cry foul and demand amends and either driving lessons or removal of license. But if someone says, oh I’m spiritual now, all my misbehavior before doesn’t matter, there are some who will say, yes, ok.
Here’s why that’s a problem: If we don’t take the time to see that a behavior was a problem, see what the stimulus is, and consider what a new wholehearted response could be, we will likely find ourselves responding with the same problematic behavior to the next stimulus. (And now history has repeated itself!)
What if as a community or a country or world decide that the past atrocities can’t happen anymore because ‘we’re different now.’ In some hearts, in some places, this is true. But in many ways, we’re not that different than the generations who lived through those wars, we just have fancier technology.
Last week I blogged about the ‘other.’ The heartbreaking things we see in the world are often a descendant of forgetting that we belong to each other, that there is no one else. But remembering this is also the source of the heartwarming things we see in the news, the folks helping each other through the storms and trials of life. Are we all one family? Or Not?
What’s the take away from all this? We don’t have to dwell in the past, but we need to understand what has happened, both personally and globally, to be able make the changes we wish to see.