Who sees all beings in his own Self and his own Self in all beings, loses all fear. 

The Isa Upanishad

We are living in a fearful time.

It is hard – right here, right now – to see ourselves in one another. Isolation. Fear. Anger. Sadness. Our hearts break making it just about impossible to be instruments of peace. Our eyes weep and want to close. Talking in theological and philosophical and poetic terms about seeing ourselves in each other is particularly soul crushing right now. I don’t want to see myself in those who spew hate and cruelty and death. I don’t want to extend an olive branch to those who create death and chaos and fear.  A ring of safety – the distance kept to protect one from pain – buries compassion, faith, and understanding.

A Ring of Safety At This Moment

This is the exact moment to question a ring of safety. This is the time to acknowledge the privilege of a ring of safety, understanding that some people, particularly people who are vulnerable because of their medical conditions, age, what they look like, who they love, and how they worship, have never known safety. In the middle of this pain, I don’t want to understand the ring of safety of those that hurt others. People who hurt others often tout preserving their ring of safety as their rationale for their actions. Rings of safety can kill. This moment is the moment to understand, more deeply than we ever have, our rings of safety are interdependent. They live and breathe together.

Questioning A Ring of Safety

Only in questioning our ring of safety will we understand how we got here and how we get out. Questioning does not mean softening or twisting or equivocating or lying. Questioning does not mean silencing or posturing or apologizing or capitulating. My questions are about a way forward from fear and hate and cruelty. Is it about appealing to our better angels? Is it about reaching a bottom from which we all agree we must rise? Is it about deep reconciliation that will require the powerful to see a shared future and act differently? A scorched earth approach to the future that perpetuates old power structures is not the answer. Truly seeing ourselves in others, and living according to that truth, requires healing of a magnitude that we have not known as a world. The possibility of this moment of deep pain is unquestionable. We feel it and see it when we pay attention. The urgency of now appears every day – as heroes come forth, as truth tellers speak out, as storytellers tell stories, as organizers mobilize, as our youth enter the conversation, as honest systems hold and dishonest systems fold. Momentum toward something better for us all is building. A ring of safety, in which we truly do see ourselves in one another, can surround us all. May it be so.