“Start spreading the light”—Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein
This morning I had no big plans. No clients scheduled. I did not have to run any errands. There were no pressing things to do around the house. I moved at my own pace. What a luxury! It felt indulgent but I also knew it was perfectly timed.
I checked off a few things I wanted to do…savor my coffee in quiet—check. Scan over emails and reply as needed—check and check. Talk for a few minutes with one of my favorite people about her newest inspiration—check. Stretch out with a little yoga—check. Meditate—check.
Feeling centered, calm and hopeful for how the rest of the day would unfold; I flipped on the tv. Big mistake. It was the news. Specifically, it was an interview with Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein.
Not a surprise to those who know me, I have struggled with watching the news over the last 2 years. But I knew about the domestic terror attack in Poway, CA (BTW, I looked up the definition of domestic terror attack*; even though we have not heard it from the one person who needs to say it– this was a freaking domestic terror attack). When I heard about it, my heart sank. Another attack. Another attacker who violated the safe, sacred and peaceful space of prayer and congregation. Another community struggling with feelings of shock, horror, outrage, fear, confusion, anger, and mourning all at the same time. Another reminder that life is fragile, and our world is imperfect and hurting. And another bullshit Tweet from an absolute twit. I tried to shut it all out of my mind and tried to forget about it.
But I was captivated by Rabbi Goldstein’s raw emotion; he was amid grief, trauma, and heartbreak. He was hurting; but he needed to still be a leader for his community and appeared ready to inspire others. He had the amazing insight of what he should do next and what we (as a country) should do next. He described how we are receiving too much “darkness”; meaning too much hate, too much fear-mongering, t0o much discrimination, too much apathy, too much greedy grabbing of power and control. Rabbi Goldstein spoke of the timeless message that only light can drive out the dark—drive out the hate.
I often feel exhausted by the daily onslaught of fear-based sentiments, inflammatory rhetoric, misleading statements, vile misrepresentations and (if anyone is counting, over 10, 000) lies. But after watching this news report I felt inspired to act. I found myself repeating, “Start spreading the light”. Repeating the phrase that Rabbi Goldstein had spoken a few minutes prior while being interviewed.
I grabbed my notebook and started to brainstorm.
How do we do this? How do we start to spread the light? How do we live an inspired life?
Here is my list of ways we can “Start Spreading the Light”:
- Reach out to friends or family members who are struggling–show them your love, companionship or support. It will help them of course, but it fosters our own sense of compassion and empathy.
- Practice Gratitude. Seriously, this stuff works. It can shift us out of the funk of “life sucks” to “wow, there are some really awesome things in my life”. Remember to focus on the feeling that the things you are grateful for make you feel when writing your list.
- Give someone in your life some unsolicited positive feedback. Otherwise known as, “catch them being good”. It works with our kids, it works with us at work, it works in our relationships, it works.
- Volunteer. Someone could really use your time, energy and skill. Really, they need it.
- Make sure your voice is heard. Write, call, email, send smoke signals. I don’t care how but send messages to any of the elected officials that represents your needs.
- Educate a younger generation. Based on truths and with accurate representations of history. Shape their education with shared values and ethics. Teach them to be honest and full of integrity and compassion. Encourage them to take responsibility for their actions and to be solid decision makers. Emphasize creativity, empowerment, commitment and fairness. Role model good communication.
- Try to “Pay It Forward” or a random act of kindness. I can guarantee you will make that person’s day. And you will feel pretty dang proud of yourself too.
- Skip the scroll through social media feeds. It has all the stuff that will potentially ruin our mood or day in general.
- Learn about a great leader, master, or historical figure; known for her/his positive impact in any area. Tell someone about what you learned. Find little ways to try to exemplify any of those inspirational tidbits.
- Get involved. Also known as: become an activist. Got an interest? Protecting animals? Saving the environment? Equality? Access to education? Sustainable farming? Lowering obesity rates? Bringing disco back? Bringing integrity back to the White House? Stopping adults from putting ketchup on hot dogs? Whatever it is…Brainstorm on ways you can bring increased awareness about that interest, area or issue and positively contribute to our world.
- Sit in quiet reflection, prayer or meditation. Figure out what moves you or inspires you and be open to whatever direction that leads you.
What area do you want to see change? How can you “Start Spreading the Light”? How can you achieve an inspired life?
If you have any questions about this blog or need help identifying your best way to take action and move towards living an inspired life, feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
*Section 802 of the USA PATRIOT Act (Pub. L. No. 107-52) expanded the definition of terrorism to cover “”domestic,”” as opposed to international, terrorism. A person engages in domestic terrorism if they do an act “dangerous to human life” that is a violation of the criminal laws of a state or the United States, if the act appears to be intended to: (i) intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping. Additionally, the acts have to occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States and if they do not, may be regarded as international terrorism.
(The above definition was copied directly from the ACLU’s website)