When I was 8 years old, my mother gave me a dollar and said I could go to the store to buy myself a treat. On my way, I was intercepted by two hoodlums who were roughly 5 years older than me. They asked me if I had any money. I said no, then tried to make my way. They didn't believe me and searched my pockets. Despite my resistance, they roughed me up and forcibly stole my dollar. I remember how happy they were to take it from me. They gloated to one another and made their way. It was the first time I felt vulnerable...cheated.
In my late teens, I like, most others, enjoyed playing pinball and would often go to arcades. One fine evening, I made the "very” wise decision of going to the washroom alone. When I entered, two men rushed in behind me. One held the door closed while the other asked me for my money; his hand clutching a gun. He was older and much larger than I was. With no time to think, I offered a $5 bill I had loose in my pocket. He took it...but then asked if I had more. I told him I didn't....but my eyes deceived me as he motioned for me to give him my wallet. I did. He took all I had. He then told me to go into the cubicle and to close the door behind me while they made their getaway. I was admittedly, very upset and shocked, but oddly.....I did not feel cheated.
During the assault, as quick as it was however, there was yet another, more important exchange. It took me nearly three decades to fully understand it.
When he first asked me for my money, we looked each other in the eyes; this is rare in assaults. In my eyes, he likely saw that I would not challenge him. In his eyes, I saw a thief who would not harm me...unless I did challenge him. During this very brief visual exchange, I felt something daunting...but did not understand it until recently.
I believe that every action we undertake in life, has a counterpart...that of Karmic-balance. When we hurt others, whether physically or verbally, there is a “registered” karmic-negative. This tally remains up to the point when and where remedial-action(s) effaces it, or better still, re-balances karma. In order to cause harm to anothers...you must first trade your “light” for “fire”; what is pure in you for what is not. It is a choice made....a barrier crossed.
In equal measure, however,...there is a "karmic-challenge" placed upon the "assaulted" party; (notice I did not use the word victim!). I was also burdened negatively as, thinking back on the experience, I held tangible hate and anger for him. Moreover, I felt shame for not having fought back, despite having trained in the martial arts. Fighting back would have been a loosing proposition on all accounts.
It took me many years to realize that this was not an assault, but rather....a test. The test being, how do I view the aggressor....the person? Do I see a weak soul attacking another? Do I wish him harm? Should he who lives by the sword...perish by it despite the harm and/or intent? Perhaps...he was just a victim of a tough life, which inexorably, led him to hurting others? This, despite what I saw in his eyes?..... Most importantly....can I forgive him?
It is much easier to say, we will move the mountain...than it is to do it!... Likewise, it is much easier to say I “can” forgive than it is to do so without having a real-life measure by which to task yourself of the question. This is very challenging.....and if you answer honestly....it will bring you to your very core. Where you go from there...is the point entirely.
The Greek aphorism; know thyself, is harder known...than said....Challenge yourself introspectively and relive the hardships that you have endured throughout your life. You will learn of "who" you are...through your conclusions.... Some of your conclusions may surprise you
Perhaps, you will progress spiritually to levels where, you now realize that life-experience, good or bad, are indeed...tests. The net-sum-total of what you learn and subsequently, how you share this wisdom in order to help others...is who and what you leave this world as....thus augmented, your progression towards higher being is validated by such growth and most importantly.....by your compassion...and ability to see beyond your own pains.
Although I was assaulted at gun-point and things could have gone horribly wrong, I saw frailty in his eyes. I saw the humanity that exists in all of us; however faint the measure is......we all have it.
The scholarly conundrum of Nature vs. Nurture....a very slippery slope indeed!
The song expresses a simple truth; In order to advance spiritually...our karmic-score must be positive. We cannot progress, in this realm or any other, with negative karma. When one realizes the harm that he or she has caused others, he or she must atone.... This means, reliving the harm they caused others....and asking for redemption, if not from those harmed...then from the universe. We cannot be free, when we feel spiritually-imprisoned by grinding-guilt...the worst prison ever!
When I wrote the song, I wanted the music to evoke the emotional-angst within the lyrics...I wrote them from what I believe, may be his perspective today....where perhaps he asks:
"Look past the lie you see...to see how I bleed".....the illusion of my aggressions...underlies my own injuries.
"Shine your light on me....I want to believe"...........through your power to forgive me, I am redeemed...as your brother.
"Wash it from me...I want to be free"......................the pain I have caused others stains me...it imprisons me.
"Save Me.....I want to be free"................................from my own prison.
To those who have been bullied, or otherwise harmed...your ability to forgive and hence...heal others, is the counterweight which balances humanity against its counterpart.....such that it should exist in God's eyes.