Peace love and joy, or else!

I know plenty of people who are all about the peace, love and joy, and express that by doing it, by keeping away from drama, accepting what they get, being nice to people, being tolerant, not picking fights and so forth. That’s all lovely, and consistent and there’s nothing much to argue with.

Then there’s this whole other thing I run into now and then, where people get angry if you aren’t lovely enough. They don’t want negativity and darkness, they want light and positivity, dammit! How dare you come along and suggest that the world isn’t perfectly lovely? How dare you not be exuding joy? Everything is perfect and lovely and good and how dare you piss on my bonfire by inviting me to consider that it might be different. I hate you. Leave me alone. You’re ruining my day.

I can’t help but feel if other people’s shortage of peace, love, light and joy makes you angry, then something is awry. Spirituality is not a magic bubble to escape from all the woes of the world. It’s not a special blanket to insulate us from all wrongs. If you’ve got the inner poise and compassion to be full of light in face of life experience, all power to you. If the pain and injustice of the world makes you sad and angry – that’s not necessarily a bad thing. However, there’s a world of difference between getting angry over the sources of cruelty and injustice and getting angry about having your nice bubble burst.

There will always be death and suffering. While we are mortal, there will be loss, grief and pain. While we are struggling to be better humans, there will be cruelty and injustice. Having a sense of light and love being present in the world is not about getting to pretend that the bad stuff doesn’t happen. The light and love in your world is the light you carry inside you and the love you bring with you. If it all starts to feel a bit dark and grim, the most likely reason is that you’ve gone beyond your own capacity, somehow.

While we can turn to each other for love and support – and should – it is down to each of us to carry what love and light we can. We all have low ebbs when we need someone else to inspire us, but that’s different from requiring everyone to be full of love and light. If there is only darkness outside your bubble, if you are furious that other people aren’t helping you feel good about the world, and sick of them bringing you down with their negativity… look in a mirror. If you can’t find a spark of warmth, a flicker of compassion, a whisper of hope… for yourself, for them… where on earth is it going to come from?

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, polyamourous animist, ant-fash, anti-capitalist, bisexual steampunk. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

16 responses to “Peace love and joy, or else!

  • angharadlois

    Very incisive – I think a lot of people who are so keen on “love and light” seem to need to get it from others, instead of finding it within themselves, which is why they act out when it seems to be in short supply around them. “Love and light” sound so nice, don’t they? Kind of like how unicorns sound, in Terry Pratchett’s words, “fluffy”. But love can hurt and light can be searing, and a unicorn can be a bloody great horse with a horn on its head.

  • Christopher Blackwell

    Peace, love, joy or else reminds me very much of some of our New Age folks. and it can be a very cold hearted way to look at things. There is an idea that if you just think happy thoughts, things will go well, which in turn suggests that if things go wrong, it must be because you have allowed negative thoughts to creep into your life. So it seems to blame the victim for their own problems. Even a variation, that if things continue to go wrong, that you must have something horrible in you past life, it is still your fault.

    Yet pain and suffering comes to all people, though it may be about different things, just as sickness and death also come to all people. It is easy to enjoy good times and when things are going your way, but it takes someone who gains strength under pressure and trial to survive much of what life sends us.

    You cannot gain that strength by pretending the pain and suffering will ever happen, or by ignoring those around you that are suffering. In fact ignoring them creates a world where your own pain and suffering is likely to be without the needed support for you. Only by helping, and providing some emotional support for those hurting, can we create a world where fewer humans will be broken by misfortune. To live in a world, where everyone backs away from you when things are going bad, would make life terrifying.

  • Aurora J Stone

    I’ve known people who are in the ‘love and light’ camp. They really can’t cope with the ‘indifference and dark’ stuff, which is going to be a percentage of one’s experience, what percent depends on many things. I do not think/feel/believe it is healthy to always dwell in the light, either spiritual or physical, any more that always being in the sequestered place of love, peace and joy. If one doesn’t ever experience the times of loneliness, trial and sadness then one can’t really appreciate the wonder of love, peace and joy. One can’t have empathy or compassion if one is always in a charmed bubble. One can’t reach out to someone in need or hurting if one is afraid of being burned or frozen.

    Of course really bad stuff happening to someone may have made them draw up and circle the wagons, blocking out the terror of the dark and dangerous aspects of life. And there are energy vampires who because they can’t create or sustain the ‘light and love’ suck it out of others.

    We are truly better off when we are honest about what we need and expect and are prepared to reach out to others in appropriate ways and in the proper circumstances.

    When one of my step-daughters was younger and we were sitting on the sofa on a cool evening said: I’ll share some of my warm with you.’

  • Jack Manx

    I have a few thoughts on this one.

    I agree, the world is not perfect, and one should not hide from that fact. If you only experience the pleasant, you are living half a life. You are losing out on some of what life is. I’ve run into people who have tried to bully me into being happy. Which is not positive, even when you don’t have a mental illness. I also understand what it is like to be around somebody who is only cynical and angry. It’s the same problem, in reverse. You are focusing on the half of life you want to experience, and ignoring the other side.

    This also brings up a concern of mine. I have had to try and focus on the positive, just to fight my cynicism and disdain. I have to surround myself with positive things just to keep myself from descending into major bouts of depression and negativity. But even while doing that, I am still (sometimes painfully) aware of the negative things happening in the world. Sometimes I have to completely avoid them, just for my mental health’s sake. But knowing that awful stuff is out there, I feel like I should do something about it. But how can I take action if I can’t process it without falling apart?

    I suppose what I am trying to say is that everyone has a certain level of functionality when it comes to dealing with these things. Good or bad. You should not lean too far to either side, or risk losing touch with…whatever you wish to call the rise and fall of positive and negative elements in life. But some of us choose to venture out, and experience both, for whatever reason. I just need to figure out to what degree I feel justified in asking the same of other people.

    • Nimue Brown

      I think you’re very right there Jack, and thank you for sharing. I also think that we can defend ourselves from what we can’t manage without having to get weird with people. ‘I ca’t take this right now’ is a perfectly reasonable response, and a whole other approach 🙂

  • Janice R. Baker, LMSW, CAADC

    Hi again, Nimue. This is Jan Baker (again.) I just wanted to say that I would like to try to connect with you on LinkedIn, and start things over, hopefully on better footing. I have done some soul-searching, and today also talked to my husband Doug about my strong aversion to your previous articles and opinions. Your words had been hurting me deeply because I felt that you were condemning more mainstream people like me, and those whom I love. I was taking your opinions personally when they are your opinions, based on your experiences.

    I also realize now that we share a few personality traits that I don’t like to acknowledge in myself. One is the need to be right. Another is a certain level of arrogance, also covering insecurity. And a third is the need to have the last word. For me, all stem from fear related to childhood trauma.

    I wanted you to know this so that maybe you would stop assuming things about me that aren’t necessarily true. But even if you can’t do that, I would like to have another chance to support and befriend you better than I have. There has not been space to convey these things when I have tried to connect to you. I will try again in the future. If you don’t feel like connecting, that’s fine, too. By the way, I really did mean it when I wrote that I wanted you to be happy, though. It was not meant as, “be happy, or else!” I think you chose to take it that way. No one is happy all the time. Anyway, I will try to connect with you, and will leave the door open. Thanks. Jan

    • Nimue Brown

      That’s fascinating in so many ways. Doubt and uncertainty are central to my path, I spend a lot of time falling and failing and getting things wrong, and unpicking that, dusting myself off and having another go. I am amused and bemused by life in about equal measure. I tend to learn more from encounters with people who think very differently, and I greatly enjoy the way in which regular visitors to the blog offer alternative views and experiences. In juxtaposing different views, we are able to learn and grow without anyone having to be more right or wrong than anyone else, I think. This blog was not particularly a reflection on your words – I’m very lightly connected to a few thousand people across social media, I see all kinds of things floating past all the time, and in truth this post had more to do with some people I know in person. If I would be a useful bit of grit in the shell from which you might fashion your own pearls – by all means, make use of that.

  • Janice R. Baker, LMSW, CAADC

    Hey Nimue, one more thing … I tried to reconnect to Dr. Malone on linkedIn, but don’t know if it went through. Also sorry for blocking him. Same sentiment for him. If he would rather not, I understand. Not trying to be a saint, or convince anyone that I’m Mother Teresa, or happy all the time. Just wanted to know in my own mind that I did try to make amends. Thanks again. Jan

    • Nimue Brown

      The internet is a strange country, for all of us, where usual social rules often don’t apply and we can form strange and unlikely connections and break them in a moment. Stuff happens…you do what you can with that, and see where it takes you.

  • Christopher Blackwell

    Nothing wrong with differing opinions. The problem becomes only if we attach our ego to our option. With ego attached and disagreement becomes a personal attack, even when it was not but only a different opinion. Learning how detach the ego saves us a lot of unnecessary misery.

    The same goes for unwiring the buttons that people like to punch to watch us react. Once unwired those buttons are no longer any fun. I had to unwire a lot of buttons so I was no longer quite so predictable and enjoyable to play with.

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