Joel Shuler

“Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.” ~Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” ~The Dalai Lama

As I write this publisher message, I’m still in a heightened emotional state over the shootings at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. Shock, disbelief, sadness, bewilderment, anguish, frustration, to name a few. Like you, I can’t understand how something so horrific can happen. In a church. At a Bible study. Innocent, loving, caring, prayerful people. It is devastating.

I have several thoughts that have come to me about this tragic event. The first word that comes to my brain is peace; I believe that we all need peace. And patience and understanding and empathy. We have so much work to do to help our neighbors and friends rediscover community, that sense of togetherness, of interdependency. People of all colors, all faiths, all ages. Men, women, children. Gay, straight, transgender. We need to love each other, accept each other, support one another, learn from each other, understand one another.

We must first stop building walls, building those imaginary barriers that keep us isolated from people who don’t look like us, talk like us, dress like us, worship like us, live in our neighborhood or go to our schools. Fear is the mortar between the bricks in these walls, imaginary fear created by stories told about “them,” stories that close minds and hearts.

We need to recognize the fact that the DNA of ALL human beings living today is 99.9 percent the same. We are all part of one global human body that is a tremendous, glorious combination of billions of colors, billions of ideas and emotions, billions of beautiful faces. Rejecting and fighting various parts of this global human body wounds us all – there is no escaping the pain we cause ourselves when we hurt an individual or a group that is part of this one global human body. They are us, and we are them.

On my own spiritual journey, I’ve come to believe that my life depends on the interactions I have with others. My teachers in this life are everywhere – they are the people I get impatient with, those who frustrate me, those who do or say things that hurt me. They’re also the people who offer me help when I look lost or who offer a smile when I’m feeling anxious and troubled. They could be anyone, any color, any gender, any age. My role is to be constantly open and receptive to them, to not miss their lesson when they come into my life.

So I challenge myself to find my imaginary walls and reach across them, to create new opportunities for new human interactions and new lessons. I invite you to do the same.

May your spirit soar, and may you and your family experience peace and happiness throughout this wonderful month of July!

Joel-signature   Joel Shuler, Publisher

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