I had a burst of panic as I looked up at the water’s surface; then everything went white, and I felt immense peace.
I then found myself above the water; watching as my uncle saw what was happening and hurried over to where my 4-year-old self was lying in the water. I saw him pull me out of the water and place me on the side of the pool. I “woke” up in my body in time to hear my parents arguing about who was supposed to have been watching me.
I didn’t know what to think about that experience; and filed it away in a distant corner of my memory. Years later, a Sunday School teacher told us about when she died, met Jesus, and came back to life. (This was before Raymond Moody wrote his book “Life after Life,” about his own near-death experience.)
She told of leaving her own body after she died; and I was struck by the similarities of her “out of body” experience to mine. She then described meeting loved ones in a “tunnel” and coming out into a light of perfect love. She then described how her life was replayed/relived in its entirety. She not only relived her own feelings and emotions during this “life review” but also felt the emotions of those who shared her life, and saw how her actions affected them.
Several years after hearing this story, I came across Raymond Moody’s book. I read everything I could on the subject. I saw a pattern: The person would exit their body at death, find themselves observing their body from above, find themselves in a tunnel, then emerge in to a beautiful light. (They often describe a being of light who radiates pure love.)
This is when the “Life Review” is experienced. Many have told of the deep shame, regret and sorrow they feel as they have to experience the pain and suffering their actions have caused others. Thinking about how much I regret moments in my own life; and dreading the reliving of my “not so shining” moments; I got thinking about what that “Life Review” might be like for those in positions of power in the world.
When you have power over many, your actions for good or ill are magnified exponentially. For example, say you are producing a drug that you know is highly addictive. You are poised to make a fortune selling this drug, so you hide the facts. Years later, countless lives have been lost and destroyed, but your company made billions. How will you feel as you have to experience all of the pain you caused?
You may be a world leader. Your actions affect millions of people. You choose to act in ways that make people of color, immigrants, the LGBTQ population, Muslims, Jews, women, workers, the poor and others, afraid. They are imprisoned, disenfranchised, deprived of medicine, job equality/opportunities, etc. You dismantle government programs and agencies whose purpose is to help and protect citizens. You dismantle environmental protections, which leads to degradation of the environment and extreme climate events.
If you are a religious person of power and influence, if you believe in a “hereafter,” do you really want to have to stand in the presence of Love and live through the suffering that your lack of love has caused?
I believe that that the ramifications of the actions and words of even the least influential of us are like waves in the ocean. They will spread further than we can imagine.
Shelley Robinson is a writer who lives in Holladay.