words and images by mk swanson
My Shadow, Your Shadow

My Shadow, Your Shadow

Humans have a responsibility to care for each other, and for every other being on Earth. I am afraid that other people don’t believe that is true; I fear that they believe that there isn’t enough, and will prioritize themselves and their own people at others’ expense.

Fear, however, hasn’t ever done anything for me. It has made me cowardly. It has kept me from fulfilling my dreams. It has haunted me, made me lose sleep, and drawn me into the darkest moments of my life. I don’t want to live in fear.

People I talk to either believe that they have to hide to protect themselves, or fight to defend what they care about. Recent developments have heightened our sense that no one is looking out for us anymore, and we are reacting to the fear that engenders by preparing for violence. We don’t have to look far into the past for examples of when this seemed to be the only reasonable choice.
I make no argument against the past. I have believed in just war. In theory, I think that I would use violence to protect myself and my loved ones.
Still, I don’t think this is the answer to any of our problems, now. War, oppression, racism, sexism, the collapse of the environmental status quo we have relied on for our safety and happiness, none of these will be cured with a reaction based in fear.
This is how my ego thinks I look.
Maybe, instead, we can explore how responding with love would work better.
Here are a few ideas I’m thinking about:
  • Heal your shadow. Shadow is the manifestation of our distorted strengths. The only way to cure our global shadow is to heal our own.
  • Be kind. When you hear the language of intolerance, respond with love. Speak the truth, but be kind.
  • Trust the universe. Don’t allow yourself to become nihilistic.
This is how I feel when I see my shadow.