The first time I heard about “stand your ground” states, I couldn’t believe it. I first heard about stand-your-ground laws when George Zimmerman was acquitted of the murder of Trayvon Martin. He pursued this young man without cause, with no legitimate authority to do so. And when Trayvon attempted to defend himself, he and Zimmerman ended up in a physical altercation. Zimmerman was ill-equipped for such an altercation, and received the worse end of the beating. In response, he took Trayvon’s life and got away with it. The state of Florida justified this cold-blooded and racist murder under the “stand your ground” law.
Earthly justice is often a mockery of real justice. Trayvon did not deserve to die. Zimmerman did not, and does not, deserve to live outside of prison. But, I got to thinking about what “standing your ground” really means.
For me, it does not mean that I have the right to murder people who annoy me. Quite the opposite. For me, standing my ground means that I remain grounded and rooted in spiritual principles regardless of the provocation I face.
When someone insults, disrespects, abuses, mocks, or violates me in any way, I have a choice to make. I can give it right back to them and better. I know how to do that. This will relieve my ego in the short term, and temporarily make me feel more powerful. This will strengthen and fatten up my ego.
The ego is fragile, insecure, and childish. So, if I strengthen my ego, I will further strengthen those qualities in myself. Next time I am offended, I will be more likely to respond in ego-based ways. This further weakens my character, and further strengthens my ego, in a downward spiral that makes me more and more dependent on outside circumstances, public opinion, and shallow achievements for fleeting glimpses of pseudo-happiness – until the next irritating circumstance comes along.
The other choice I have is to stand my ground. If I’m provoked, I can choose to respect the other person and give them human dignity, even if they don’t “deserve” it. I can choose to wrestle my ego to the ground, refusing to sink to the other person’s level. I can seek to understand what they are going through. I can choose to understand that they are in the throes of the ego’s clutches, and are, therefore, unable to respond in a mature, loving, or helpful way.
This doesn’t mean that one should be a doormat. It is perfectly okay and advisable to draw boundaries around what is and is not acceptable in how others treat you. But this can be done without resorting to ugly and undignified behavior. You can be true to your spiritual practice while still asserting healthy boundaries. One does not negate the other. On the contrary, they work hand in hand.
So, next time you are provoked, whether it’s by another human or by the unpredictable circumstances of life, stand your ground. Standing your ground requires no weapons, other than the weapons of a pure and potent consciousness. Standing your ground requires an inner strength that absorbs the negativity around it, folds it nicely, and hands it back to the person or situation from which it came.
The laws of the land often reflect the fear and weakness of the lowest common denominator. Spiritual law, however, reflects the power, strength, and certainty that we are all One. Love and courage are more powerful than hate and fear. Standing your ground means you believe that with all your heart and soul. It means you are willing to live a life that reflects that.
Go out into the world, walk in love, and always stand your ground.
Peace and joy,