'Is Joy Enough?' is what I kept asking myself this past week, as the stress of my days left me feeling exhausted, delusional, worried, and searching for which way to turn. Having written JOY: What My Heart Taught Me over a number of years, during which time I experienced stress in its various forms, I know that JOY is the answer. I had simply forgotten how in the middle of extreme stress, JOY can seem elusive.
Today, August 5, 2017, marks the 5th anniversary of a mass shooting by a white supremacist that killed six worshippers and wounded six others in a Sikh Temple. It remains one of the worst hate crimes committed in our country's history. As is always true after something so unthinkable occurs, people were left asking 'Why?' Singh Kaleka, whose father was killed in the shooting, contacted Arno Michaelis, former white supremacist, to begin a dialogue in an effort to answer the question, 'Why?' Sheepishly, Michaelis agreed to meet, feeling the ideology he had once espoused and propagated in society was to blame.
In expressing why someone would do something so hurtful, Michaelis cites internalized hate. Often the hate is born out of life experience that leaves one feeling alone, hurt, scared, with nowhere to turn, which then leads to a harboring of ill toward others, and is fed, because it is the only thing over which the person has control in his/her life.
Michaelis's transformation from living a life of hate to one of love was born out of the love shown him by people he encountered in his everyday life, despite the fact that he hated them and treated them in a hurtful way. Over time, he came to see that their way was better, and little by little, his heart was opened to love, and he, too, experienced the joy in living. Michaelis has written a book, My Life After Hate, in which he chronicles in graphic detail the distressed life he led prior to allowing the love in his heart to lead him to a life of joy.
Today, Michaelis and Kaleka, through the organization they co-founded, Serve 2 Unite, work to help others experiencing trauma, hurt, and pain, knowing that those states can lead a person to a life filled with hate, as it did for Michaelis, and for the Sikh Temple shooter. Michaelis understands that hurt people hurt others, and seeks to use his personal story of transformation and reformation, in the same way Kaleka heals through helping others, to promote love and joy as the way of life.
While my stress this week did not cause me to feel hate, it did bring about more negativity toward those whom I felt may have been part of the cause of my stress. While I was able to bring my stress under control in a short period of time, I understood that it may not have been possible without the people and life situation with which I am blessed. Listening to the stories of the Sikh Temple shooting, and particularly the story of Michaelis and Kaleka, left me deeply moved, and deeply committed to continue to summon joy in my heart, particularly during times of distress and stress, to let love rule.
Is JOY enough? Yes.
author of "JOY"