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It is hard to comprehend.
Even after the Capitol Building was attacked, broken into, and looted by hundreds of rioters, even after the American flag on the building was replaced with a Trump flag, even after rioters called for the Republican Vice President to be hung, and a police officer was beaten to death by a fire extinguisher, and even after the President incited the riot with calls to show strength while denying the legitimacy of the election—even after all this, six GOP senators and 121 GOP House members voted against Biden’s confirmation.
Leading up to all this, Proud Boys and Boogaloo Boys and Oath Keepers and Qanon zealots went down various nasty rabbit holes of delusion and paranoia, fueled by the President’s Twitter feed (RIP) and his many acolytes of deceit, such as Tucker Carlson, Joshua Hawley, Ted Cruz, and the self-described Grim Reaper Mitch McConnell.
Black Lives Matter protestors were not always able to resist lighting things on fire to display their rage—imperfect humanity occurred on both sides—but to many of us, it seemed obvious one side was fighting to be treated like equal human beings who should not be shot by law enforcement for selling loosies or walking in a neighborhood or having a mental illness; while the other side was fighting for the continued sublimation of those rights, and the sense that, as white people in the most fortunate country on earth for white people, they were having their Way Of Life stolen from them.
When there are neo-Nazis involved, there are not good people on both sides—or, to be more spiritual about it, one side is consistently exhibiting evil behavior, one is not.
Nothing could help the proudly Boogaloo Boys and their Qanon friends from seeing that their president was an emperor with no clothes; in fact, not only did he have no clothes, he was lying to every single American about the deadliness of a disease that has now killed 376,000 of us, saying it would “just disappear.” A president who mocked the doctors and scientists trying to save us, who mocked those wearing masks to try to save each other, and who had been blatantly stoking racism and sexism and denying climate change science for years.
As an Elephant Journal-reading, kombucha-loving, Bernie-sticker-on-my-Volkswagen-having liberal, it can be hard to fathom how my fellow Americans could buy into so much that seems so obviously false, obviously wrong, obviously not at all what the Jesus many of them hold so dear would want from any of us. What is the fundamental difference, we may ask, from many of us—who believe in equal rights for all people, basic human rights like healthcare, food and housing, and like, science—and those who voted for Trump twice, 77 million strong.
Is it that we, snowflake liberals, grew up in or near a Northeast city, or in a liberal paradise like Portland, Oregon, or Boulder, Colorado? Is it that we were raised differently? Is it that we weren’t drawn to fundamentalist, simplistic ways of viewing spirituality, or the world, or our fellow citizens because of the schools we went to and the friends we chose?
If I grew up in a rural town in Alabama with parents who were fundamentalist Christians and Republicans, might I have racist ideology too? Would I love automatic weapons and Blue Lives Matter flags? Would I think Kid Rock had talent?
God, I hope not. But obviously, a lot of our ideologies can be created from our environment, our parents, our friends, and the zip code we spent our formative years in. Yet I grew up in a wealthy area, was raised Born-Again Christian, was taught to succeed by the avenues of college and traditional choices, and now I am not wealthy, I am a flaming New Ager, I barely graduated college, and I am an anarchist of the soul.
The soul: this may be an answer to why some of our fellow human beings seem to have the ethical and social intelligence and self-control of a toddler. They are toddlers. They are Baby Souls.
There is a series of books by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, written in the 1980s, called Messages From Michael. The books give lessons about life and why we are here from a spirit they call Michael. I read all these channeled books with a grain of salt; it’s hard to know how seriously to take them, but they do often have some real wisdom and insight. Michael discusses reincarnation at length, and the idea of different soul ages, such as “baby,” “young,” “mature,” and “old.” He refers to the baby souls as preferring “conservatism” with a “rigidity of perceptions that are limiting not only to them but to those around them.”
He also stresses that each soul age has its merits and that one should not assume “any cycle is ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than any other.” We are all in our own cycles, and just as a child having a tantrum is no better or worse than a middle-aged man sitting in his Lazy Boy watching “America’s Got Talent,” so goes the ages of souls.
It’s all a stage of evolution, and some of us may be a bit closer to butterflies than caterpillars.
This idea can be helpful when it is hard to have empathy for the white guy in the “Club Auschwitz” sweatshirt chanting “Hang Nancy Pelosi!” as he wanders casually through the Capitol Building he just broke into. Yes, he is a criminal, and his behavior is abhorrent and evil, and he may even have been to a Kid Rock concert…but maybe he is also a baby soul, who has little idea about true right and wrong, and justice, and empathy, and gentleness, and basic reality.
Dude needs to go to jail, and then after he’s done with that, have a week in the National Holocaust Museum with a very competent docent. He’s a grown man denying the holocaust and rampaging through the senate. He’s acting like a toddler, but with the power and scariness of an adult.
Yet perhaps, a few hundred or thousand years ago, you or I were rampaging through some village in Europe or South America, our faces smeared with berries, murdering and pillaging the simple farmers who lived there because we could, and felt it was our right. Perhaps the members of the Proud Boys, with a few more incarnations, will someday be driving the future’s version of a Prius, sipping a wheatgrass smoothie, on their way to a meditation retreat where they will sit for world peace and equal rights for all robots.
Of course, this theory of baby souls crosses all political party lines. I am sure there are plenty of baby souls in all political ideologies. Yet it does seem that there is a lot of behavior on the Right these days that is immature, to say the least, extremist and dangerous, to say more, encouraged by their MAGA Wizard of OZ, who loves a good game of golf.
Only reincarnation can explain why there is so much disparity in the world: why many of us take countless photos of our food and give restaurants poor Yelp reviews for less than stellar avocado toast, while three million children die each year from undernutrition. Why someone is born blind and dies blind while the rest of us get to see the full moon, our children’s faces, and van Gogh’s “Sunflowers.”
To have only one life would seem a type of cruelty, especially if you are born in North Korea. Energy can neither be created nor destroyed. Only reincarnation can explain why some adults act like children, and why many children have more wisdom and common sense than adults.
Perhaps, some of the baby souls in our country are having a tantrum right now. They are not getting what they want, what daddy in the red cap promised them they would have, and they simply cannot comprehend it. The disparity of reality with their brainwashed fever dream simply does not compute, or if it does, they simply wash it down with another large swig of hate and self-righteousness. A tantruming child is not fun to be around, yet still lovable, but a tantruming 60-year-old man in a confederate cowboy hat calling AOC the “C” word is really, really hard to love.
Yet love him we must; or rather, we must do our best to love his Higher Self he is currently ignoring, his unkillable intelligent spirit of light, buried beneath a mind twisted by weakness and paranoia and poor website choices and a lack of complex thought. For love is the quickest and most sure path to evolution.
Love of self, love of others, love of truth and reality, and most of all, a love for holding ourselves accountable. For not denying or ignoring our shadow side, but instead seeing and healing and integrating our lesser instincts. Love, and awareness. Love, and consciousness. This is how we become adult souls and old souls. This is how we get to see Nirvana—and I’m not talking about a Seattle club in 1992.
In the meantime, we must share the planet with these baby souls who also have their own value and beauty, hidden as it may be. I will admit it can be almost impossible to see that value and beauty when they are carrying zip ties and taking selfies in front of homemade nooses. Yet we must continue to try to go high when they go low, to be as the Buddha and Christ and love our enemies, even as we have no idea how to understand them, even as they revolt us, even as we wonder how we are both human beings inhabiting the same country, the same planet.
There is no simple answer. Only questions, and our own beating heart, doing its best to grow larger.