In the world we currently live in, particularly in the last year or so, there has been an explosion on shaming and blaming. It is everywhere we turn and in almost all the conversations we hear or read. My personal opinion is that this has not benefitted us or our world to date and I'm sure it never will. When we shame others we are simply taking a stance that insinuates we are superior to them. One definition of shame is; "humiliate by revealing superior qualities". It is humiliating and thus lacks inspiration. Our world today is so focused on humiliating through shame that we are actually losing instead of gaining. It is also essentially an act of violence. In studying the Yamas ; guidelines, ethical disciplines, and observances in how we relate to our world, The first teaching is Ahimsa: Nonviolence.
"It can look so passive and unimportant that we can easily ignore its presence and its subtleties of its power, wondering what the fuss is all about.. And yet, in Eastern thought, nonviolence is so valued that it stands at the core and foundation of all yoga philosophy and practice. It is as if the yogis are saying that if we don't ground our lives in and actions in non-violence, everything else we attempt will be precarious. All of our achievements and successes, hopes and joys stand on faulty ground if they do not stand on the foundation built by nonviolence." - Deborah Adele
When we focus and spend our energy on shaming, whether it be toward big business, politicians or one another, we are undermining the one thing that will actually inspire change: accountability. "Shame undermines accountability and erodes empathy" -Brene Brown. And yet, what we need more than anything right now is accountability. It is the only way we will see change to our current systems and ways of thinking and behaving. Accountability means taking responsibility and then doing things differently. It is action. Shaming is inaction, it is a dead end. "Shame is not a social justice tool. It is emotional offloading at best, emotional self indulgence at worst" - Brene Brown. Whereas Inspiration leads to a long lasting and meaningful change. The definition of inspiration is; "stimulate a creative activity or moral fervor." To stimulate means to awaken and when we are awake we are present and effective.
Think of the 'greats' of our past and present who made and make change happen. Many times the precursor to transformation or action is anger but imagine if Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King or Nelson Mandela stayed in their anger at the inequality and injustice around them. "They may have wanted to rage at cowardice and complacency, as if brandishing swords, but they fought and lead with love instead. They transformed historical periods of darkness into legacies of light for us to follow" - Rebecca Pacheco. This is not to say we should not be angry. We should be. We need to be but anger then needs to transform into inspiration. Inspiration reveals to us, in our darkest moments, our most illuminated strengths. Not just in ourselves but in those around us. It may come from a fierce or protective love. That fierce and protective love rises from the ash, the rubble or a part of ourselves that needs to be destroyed so that another can blossom. Anger, love, ferocity, and inspiration is energy. Energy moves, evolves and transforms. Shame does not. The Hindu warrior Goddess Kali reminds us that from anything destroyed something beautiful and new can emerge. Humiliation resulting from guilt, in other words shame, is not this dynamic process.
In observing the language we use today and the way we speak about issues we care about I wonder if we could inspire thought and behavior rather than humiliate. When we humiliate another, we are coming from our own fear. Acting from a place of fear does not lead to the results we seek and we all know we are steeped in fear today. Fear does not inspire. Fear leads to greed, control, righteousness and insecurity and fear creates violence. Violence does not inspire. Bravery is inspired. Bravery leads us in faith and sustains us to nourish what we love rather than kowtow to what we fear.
To nourish what we love is courageous and inspired and leads to change. Experiencing rage, destroying that which holds us back from our truth, slaying illusion, breaking down social structures, countering harmful beliefs, protecting our earth and our children are absolutely essential and necessary and is what we need today more than ever. "These are the qualities of Kali warrior who essentially demonstrates that emotions like anger and rage are not bad or unyogic. They are human. It's what we do with them that define us." Perhaps we can all reflect and consider our battles and our bravery and lead through inspiration above all else.