Orlando: The Light and Dark Sides of the Elements

Dear Readers: When the unthinkable occurs, when humans turn violent against each other as unfolded earlier this week in Orlando, we immediately ask ourselves, “How could this happen? How is this possible?”

We will probably never know all of the reasons the shooter did what he did. And in truth, explanations pale when held against the tragedy he created. But deep inside, each of us have basic needs that drive us forward. In one way or another, we all need to be part of something important, to make a difference, to connect with others, to be loved, to be understood. When these needs take on a disproportionally large focus in our lives, the pain of their unmet presence can warp us, allowing us to think and act in ways that are unhealthy and potentially dangerous for ourselves, and others. These are the shadow sides of being human, and I think that many of them sit in the Five Elements.

There is ugliness unfolding around us at a global level, but often the most potent actions we can take to counter this ugliness is to act locally. When basic needs aren’t met, when hatred has overtaken our innate ability to love, we have shown throughout history that we humans are capable of committing atrocious acts. But no one wakes up one morning a suddenly changed monster; the downward slide toward hatred is usually a path of internal pain and emptiness that those closest to us can see.

I’m not implying that any single person should have been able to stop what happened in Orlando. But I am saying that if we all understood each other better, if we loved and accepted each other more, that might make a difference. And while I know I’m biased, I do think that understanding the Five Elements is an exceptional way of understanding each other. We all have all of the Five Elements in us.

To help us move forward, I offer here the light and dark sides of each element. Clearly, the goal is to manifest the light and love of our elements with everyone we meet. And if we know someone who seems to be manifesting the dark side of an element, the loving approach is to reach out to them; they are probably hurting.

The Light and Dark Sides of the Elements

Waters need to be part of something important, something bigger than themselves. When this happens, Waters see their place in the world. They are not just one tiny little seemingly inconsequential drop of water; they are part of the mighty ocean. This gives their life meaning and they can live in a hopeful and optimistic manner. But when Waters lose touch with the meaning of life, when they feel alone and isolated, they can become narcissistic and intolerant of others. Intolerance creates separateness and an inability to see that we are all one. We all have Water in us. Watch for intolerance and when you see it, recognize that someone has lost touch with how they fit in the world. Reach out and help them find meaning.

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