I’ve been thinking a lot about human nature lately, and what that really is. In the past, I would write-off human nature as something very negative. Looking at the violence and disparities of the world, I considered people to be “sheep”, mass herds of mindless and greedy groups vying for power.
Then I reached a new level of healing in my regeneration journey, and I saw that there is not in fact anything inherently wrong with group thought, or with being part of a collective. Instead, I began to recall Jesus’ words, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10.11). I truly internalized that, as a believer in Christ, I am a sheep! I affirmed there is nothing wrong with human nature, and in that accepted that I am what I am: gullible, fickle, and generally directionless on my own power.
I have come to understand how easy it is for me to get confused, especially when I am tired. In the past I would belittle myself for this, blaming my trauma or disassociation, but I realized that it’s not a deficit and is not the real reason why at times I can get easily scrambled. The brain is a magnificent instrument, and it will always work to make sense of a situation, even when the facts don’t line up. I am beginning to recognize this as a big component of human nature, and it is easy to manipulate on a grander scale.
So with my new commitment to love and heal and connect, I look for ways to neutralize and even reverse the lies that we are fed through the media. In order for this, I must stay on top of my self-care, which for me is in the form of sleep and nutrition. When I take care of my bodily needs, my mind will follow that positivity, and I can better resist the lies of the world.
The prose “Anyway” by Mother Teresa has become a new meditation for me, and I recall it often during this stressful time in the pandemic when my old, self-sabotaging, angry default wants to surface, and it gives me much strength and foresight:
“People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God;
It was never between you and them anyway.”
While I at times find myself struggling to understand the ways of the world, as I work on myself and understand my own self, I begin to see God within me, which helps me then turn to others, and see God in them, too. Competition, fear, and jealousy begin to slip away, and I can see a new layer of human nature: one of mutual pain and heartache, with a real need for a true and Good Shepherd, how ever that guidance and direction might look to different people.
Today it is a pleasure for me to be a part of the collective, and it is a fruit of my labour in recovery to be a part of various communities and to contribute to a whole. When I find myself muttering profanities under my breath at others, I rein it back in, and ask myself what is happening within me that is causing such defiance.
If I can move through my life in love and compassion, I can withstand the pressures of the pandemic with grace and maturity. When I look upon humanity as an expression of life simply living to the best of its ability, I can find hope in the possibility that it will eventually choose faith, restoration and cooperation, instead of scarcity, fear and rivalry.