Anger does not create positive change. In order to inspire peace, we must first lead with compassion. We have to understand what got our enemies to the place they are in. And only when we practice the discipline to do that, can we learn to speak to them in a way that they can truly hear us. I haven’t felt anger towards the people that stormed the capital. I just feel sadness. For them, for their loved ones, and for everyone else that lived the drama or watched it unfold from afar. I believe these angry souls were sucked into a cult like atmosphere. They turned to these organizations and outlets because they found something there that they felt missing from their daily lives. I’ve researched cults a lot lately, a timely interest I suppose. At first I was surprised to learn that not all people that fall victim to these organizations are the stereotypical gullible directionless people we think. They’re often well educated, part of loving families, with tons of potential and capability. They lead seemingly normal full lives. But they are sucked in with the promise of safety, community, acceptance and whatever else they silently struggle with missing in the real world. They’re desire for these often unseen and unrecognized yearnings are powerful enough to suffocate the internal objections I’m sure they must hear and feel to all that sounds bizarre and suspicious. They go willingly to battle and sometimes to their death. That need must be more powerful than any of us reading this can understand. Organizations based on conspiracy theories and other misinformation take advantage of people’s loneliness, fear and repressed anger. And the internet delivers customized invitations directly to their desperation. Followers found a community to be a part of in pro-Trump movements. A place to feel purpose and pride, all things the world too often hands out sparingly, especially on the tail of a worldwide pandemic and the forced solitude it bound us all in. It’s only when I realize this that I cannot but feel sorry for them. They turned to these cults and groups to fill a hole that life had left empty inside of them. That’s heartbreaking. And even more heartbreaking is to consider the fallout that still awaits them. How many of these people are waking daily now to realize they’re more alone than ever. Their leaders are abandoning them. Their beliefs disproved. Their direction confusing and uncertain. No, I don’t suspect they’ll immediately snap out of it and realize the error in their ways. But I cannot fault them for that. Programming takes a long time, so it seems likely deprogramming will take a long time too. In the meantime, all I can do is try to listen. Try to help gently where there is opportunity. And I think we all have to breathe. Don’t let the outrage rule you. Hate begets hate. LOVE. Love hard and fiercely. Focus on light. And raise your community up. Do your part to ensure nobody ever has to turn to these kinds of groups again. Fill your life with so much love that it overflows onto everyone around you. Be still. Be safe.
Be the light that leads someone else out of the darkness too.
Thank you for allowing me to share my story with you. It is my true belief that we make the world a better place and our experience in it richer if we share our experience together. I do that through food at my restaurant Smoking Mo’s in Shelton, Washington, and through my story telling here. I deeply thank you for joining me on this adventure, and for giving me the love and encouragement to keep moving forward.