Rainbows, Puppies and Kittens
Is it just me, or has the news become exponentially darker lately? Earthquakes, war, spying, murder – even priests aren’t safe. Refraining from the news is very difficult for me; as a rabbi, I need to be in touch with current events. On the other hand, after just a half-hour segment, I feel anxious and depressed.
Yet, I don’t believe events happen in a vacuum. There’s an insightful verse in Proverbs (27):
כַּמַּיִם הַפָּנִים לַפָּנִים כֵּן לֵב הָאָדָם לָאָדָם
“Just like water reflects the image of one face to another, so does the heart of one man reflect on another.”
The famous founder of Chasidism, the Baal Shem Tov, remarked, “When you see ill in your friend, it is your own ill that you are observing.”
Applying the Baal Shem Tov’s teaching to us: If we see division, aggression, and pain across the globe, there must be elements of that in us too. The world is reflecting the energy that we are emitting. This can’t be surprising: almost every issue nowadays is a hot topic. Tell me a topic that is not dividing us.
If our attitudes and energy are the problems, at least we know what to do. We need to start emitting a more peaceful, loving energy.
In 1993, a group of 4000 transcendental meditators gathered in Washington, DC, to try to lower the crime rate. Over a period of seven weeks, the rate of violent crimes in the area reduced by 15.6%. While it is difficult to prove factually that one caused the other, I accept the premise. The rabbis have said, “Miztvah goreret Mitvah,” doing one good deed inspires another. Why can’t peaceful thoughts inspire peaceful activity?
This past November, I attended a spiritual retreat. One of the speakers mentioned that she had an exceptionally high-strung boss. He’d take out his vexation on his team. So whenever he’d walk by her desk, she’d bless him with rainbows, puppies, and kittens, hoping these beautiful projections (energies) would lower his tension. Eventually, he was transferred, but before he left, he came up to her and said, “I don’t know what kind of witchcraft you’re practicing, but whenever I pass by your desk, I’d feel momentarily happy and calm.”
I love playing racquetball, but some people are challenging to play with. One guy is always angry, and he usually ends up hitting me with the ball. After the retreat, I decided to “bless him with rainbows, puppies, and kittens.” I haven’t gotten hit by him since!
I know it sounds like madness, but all thoughts are energy. We can detect this energy in the love we sense in home cooking and a hug from a dear friend. They’re nontangible, but we know they exist.
Who else can we bless with beauty and cuteness? If this is too far out for you, how about joining us for prayers? The full kaddish ends with “Oseh Shalom,” a request for peace for us, Israel, and the world. Let’s see the unity and peace we can foment in our community by saying this prayer wholeheartedly.
The news is getting darker, but we can make a change. Let’s try to be lighthouses of joyful and peaceful energy. We’ll then see changes in people we know, our community, and who knows, perhaps the world.