In a recent interview for CNSnews.com before his Jane Goodall benefit concert, Dave Matthews responded to questions about Iraq and Afghanistan by saying that “fighting for peace is a broken model.” He supported his opinion with the fact that “there’s never been a time when there hasn’t been a war in the past 75 years on the planet,” indicating that war begets war. On a political level, it’s interesting to hear Dave speak so openly about his beliefs. The frontman has never been one to hide his way of thinking, but if we compare these statements to comments that he made in 2007 at Radio City Music Hall, it’s clear that his frustration with the current state of affairs is mounting. But politics aside, what’s perhaps even more compelling about Dave’s remarks are their relevance to the human condition.
It is my opinion, that the proliferation of violence towards others is in direct relation to our attitudes and beliefs about ourselves. Dave makes the point that 75 years of history reveals no break in conflict between nations. This same plight also befalls mankind’s relationship to self. Everywhere we turn, people are fighting themselves over something, whether it be those last five pounds, a propensity to drink, an inability to maintain a relationship, or countless other troubles. We set ourselves up for failure by believing that willpower, control, and simple behavioral adjustments will turn us into the people that we’re striving to be. It’s not that we can’t make changes. As a psychologist, I like to say that I’m in the business of change. But for those changes to be real and lasting, they must occur on a deeply spiritual level, fueled by love and compassion, rather than hate and anger.
In certain circles, the word pacifist conjures up images of wishy-washy weaklings who can’t take a stand. To me, it’s just the opposite. It takes courage to believe in love. To paraphrase Obama, it takes audacity to believe in hope. And it takes a willingness to surrender to believe that left to it’s own devices, nature will always seek a balance.
In Dave fashion, here’s a story to illustrate my point. Where I live, white squirrels can be seen frolicking through the trees. People who come here to visit usually assume that they are albinos, but they are actually their very own species, and the tale describing the way that they got here is fascinating. Apparently, two of the squirrels destined to be a circus act, (the worst existence for a tree-dweller), rebelled and jumped off the truck somewhere near north Florida several decades ago. After a couple of unsuccessful attempts at turning these wonders into pets, (the second worst fate for a wild animal), the foresters were finally liberated. Actually, one got lose and the owner, realizing that mating was impossible, released the other one into the wild. The really telling and inspiring part of the story is that the squirrels refused to mate in captivity, and only began to flourish once they were set free. It is my belief that through hope, love, and surrender, we could set ourselves and the world free as well. Two by two.
Hayley Bauman, Psy.D.
Author of Serendipity and the Search for True Self