As we grow in our consciousness, there will be more compassion and more love, and then the barriers between people, between religions, between nations will begin to fall.—Ram Dass
How can we reshape the world through love?
As I sat down to write this, Cornelia Ten Boom immediately came to mind. Born in Amsterdam in 1892 and known as Corrie to her family, she grew into a remarkable woman of exemplary courage and compassion. When the Nazis occupied Holland during World War II, Corrie and her family, with the help of other sympathizers, hid both Jewish and non-Jewish neighbors (members of the resistance) for two years. When a Dutch informant finally exposed them, Corrie and her own family were arrested in Haarlem—along with about 30 people associated with “The Hiding Place,” or De Schuilplaats—but not the people they were hiding! Although the home was ransacked, they were not found, and four days after the arrest other resistance workers rescued them. Most of the Ten Boom family and their associates were imprisoned and sent to concentration camps for their actions; Corrie was one of the few who survived to tell the story.
In 1984, Corrie Ten Boom’s book, The Hiding Place, virtually leapt off of a bookstore shelf into my hands, and it changed my life forever. I couldn’t get her out of my mind, and I still have that book on my shelf today. Years later, the story was made into a movie with the same name, and I watched it at home with a box of tissues by my side. I even had to stop the movie at one point because I was sobbing.; it was the same when I read the book. I was so overcome by the compassion, kindness, love, faith and courage expressed by one individual, and shared by a family and a community.
From Corrie’s example, I came to understand that love does indeed reshape the world. This group’s acts of love and kindness, shared in a book and later reaching millions through the movie, are proof that the ripple effect is real.
Imagine dropping a pebble into a body of water. What happens? Ripples form, at first small, then getting larger and larger as they move outward. And whether we can see them or not, those ripples continue because they are energy—and energy is always moving. The pebble affects the water immediately around it and keeps on going.
Corrie Ten Boom and her family personally changed the lives—and saved the lives—of many people during World War II. They opened their hearts and their home to help so many escape the torture and death that was enveloping Europe. That’s the pebble in the water. The courage that it took for Corrie and her family to risk their own lives for the sake of others is a prime example of knowing in our heart the difference between love and hate, compassion and indifference or selfishness.
There are countless stories of kindness and cruelty from World War II, and every war before and since then. It is the theme of love vs. hate played out on a large scale—a theme that we experience at all ages and through all times. We cannot escape the fact that we live in a world of duality, but we do have a choice as to which state of consciousness we embrace. The question you have to ask yourself is: “What kind of pebble am I?”I know very little of what eventually happened to those saved by the Ten Booms, but I imagine many went on to marry, have children and tell their stories to their grandchildren. As a young girl in German-occupied Norway, my own mother escaped the Nazis by traveling the underground into Sweden and then to England, where she reunited with a brother and her sister. Did her story impact me and shape my world? You bet it did. Did it encourage me to be more compassionate towards others regardless of their circumstances, race or religion? Absolutely.
Does it need to take a war for us to learn this? No. At least it shouldn’t. I hope it doesn’t. Do I hold any grudges against Germans because of what some of their ancestors did? No, I do not. I try to learn from history. When we cannot forgive, we are hurting ourselves and others by perpetuating the vibration of hate and fear.
Love is compassion and kindness. Love is a state of consciousness, not a passing emotion. Love expresses itself in many ways, and defines itself by our actions and vibrational essence.
We can reshape the world, one kind gesture at a time.