Monday, January 2, 2017

Everyone Who Is Like You Is Already Here


We have seen the enemy, and he is us. ~Pogo

[Note: This is as close as I hope I will ever come to something that sounds like political commentary. But it isn’t intended as such. The context might be political, but the message is, I hope, universal.]

I was deeply saddened to see on Facebook someone crowing about canceling a holiday party because he would not welcome into his home people who voted for the presidential candidate he voted against. He bragged about this as a moral stand against the discrimination that the candidate, in his view, represents. Does anyone see the irony of discriminating against people who voted for someone who discriminates?

I once attended a church service during which a new pastor applicant gave an “audition” sermon. Afterwards, the members of the congregation were invited to ask him questions. This church, like so many, was aging itself out of existence. A concerned, gray-haired senior asked him what he would do to “grow” the church. This was his answer:

“That depends on what you are willing to risk. Everyone who is like you is already here.”

Let that soak in for a moment. What does this mean to you?

Since this is a story from a Christian church, we need look no further than Jesus for guidance.

Who was welcome at his table?

Everyone.

What was he willing to risk?

Everything.

A Course in Miracles teaches that we cannot be separated from anyone else and be connected to God (divine, sacred, universal energy–pick your word). In other words, our union with the divine is directly related to our union with each other. Even simpler, our union with the divine IS our union with each other.

Think about that. Anything, anything at all – judgment, fear, anger, hatred, dismissal – anything that separates us from anyone else separates us from what our spirit most deeply yearns for. The embrace of the sacred. Separation from one is separation from all. Without exception.

Yes, but.... Doesn’t matter.

But they.... Doesn’t matter.

I can’t accept.... Doesn’t matter.

It’s just so.... Doesn’t matter.

Tara Brach wrote, “The world is divided into people who think they are right....”

Get it? Takes a second. So how do we “undivide” the world? By undividing our own hearts.

Michelle Obama said, “When they go low, we go high.” The value of this promise is not dependent on who said it, nor on how it has or has not been modeled in the political arena. The value is in each one of us resolving to manifest what we want to experience on this earth: inclusion, friendship, honor, compassion, respect, love, kindness, integrity, generosity, peace, courage, joy.

Jesus told us to love our enemies, to bless those who curse us, to do good to those who hate us. Like the sun that rises on the evil and the good, and the rain that falls on the just and the unjust, we are called to shine our light in the darkness without reservation.

It’s easy to love those who love us back, those who are, in the words of the pastor, already here. But what are we willing to risk to gain our heart’s true desire? To manifest our soul’s true destiny? Can we open our heart door to “them,” whoever “they” are to us? I’m willing to try.

So to that person who canceled his holiday party to avoid mingling with people he sees as morally beneath him, you are always welcome at my table. Along with people who voted for the other guy.

Blessed are the peacemakers. ~Matthew 5:9

12 comments:

  1. Thank you for your posts on the theme of inclusion and division. Since you wrote about Isaiah 58:11-12, I have been more aware of the opportunities that occur daily to embrace some form of kindness, inclusion, a welcoming hand...

    "May I remember today and all days to be a repairer of the breach".

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Polly. So true, as you said, that every day offers opportunities to choose inclusion or division. And I love the image of a welcoming hand.

      Delete
  2. My sentiments exactly, Galen! A house divided against itself cannot stand. May we all learn to accept and love others, looking not at what makes us different, but what it is that binds us together as human beings.
    Blessings!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. May we indeed! Your comment reminds us of another wisdom saying. Through the ages this concept has been taught. Yet these days it seems like there is less evidence of it being practiced. Or maybe I should phrase that a different way. There are more opportunities these days to practice! Thanks for commenting.

      Delete
  3. Without getting all political, I have two things to add. One, I don't see it as irony, I see it as selfish stupidity. These idiots are cropping up everywhere, on both sides- albeit more vocally and more glaringly dumb on the "losing side". Two, I think Mrs Obama has a nice point, but after her "ashamed of this country" comments, I don't think she comes close to practicing what she preaches.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. To my readers: When CW submitted this comment for approval, I hesitated before posting it. To me, it reflected an us/them division that was the very reason I wrote the post. It also included political commentary that I was trying to avoid.

      On the other hand, if I didn’t post it, wasn’t I engaging in the very same type of exclusion I was writing about? If my post is about welcoming everyone to the table, then I better mean it! If I wrote about welcoming everyone and then excluded a comment that made me a bit uneasy, then really, I might as well delete the post.

      So I decided to post it, but first I emailed CW to confess my hesitation and to ask his thoughts. He responded with such consideration and courtesy, and told me that if I didn’t want to post his comment, he was fine with that.

      I wrote back to say how much I appreciated his understanding, but that I would post his comment with some additional reflection in my response.

      I realized that our email exchange was exactly what I was writing about. It was a perfect example of two people with different perspectives who were able to speak across their different views and listen to each other. Although on different sides of the political aisle, we were able to respect each other and find connection, if not in our politics, then in our humanity.

      I also had to laugh at the wisdom and humor of the universe. No sooner had I written about something that I believe very deeply than the universe sent me an opportunity to practice what I preach. If we are not challenged, then we do not grow. As the pastor said, what are we willing to risk?

      So to CW: You, my friend, are a gift to me today. Thank you for challenging me to look at my own reactions and to walk my talk. And thank you for the very wonderful email conversation we had. And yes, you are always welcome at the table.

      Delete
    2. And CW thanks you, because you and others like you put the proof to we CAN unite, we can LISTEN to each other, and we CAN work together. And it starts with having your own opinions but being respectful of others. I just despair of it being possible with the current state of MSM and social media...

      Delete
    3. CW, we can't control what anyone else does. We can only control what we do. Uniting happens one individual interaction at a time. We unite or divide with the words we speak, the actions we take, and the thoughts we entertain. If you look at your original comment, I think you might see that there are words in it that might hinder respectful dialogue. That's why I emailed you. I appreciate your response to my concerns.

      Delete
  4. Such a dilemma! As you know, anytime one makes any decision one is being "selective", i.e. "prejudice." One is performing an act of exclusion. As you know, far better than me, Acceptance is the key. I am not sure that, in my life at this point, Acceptance requires that I invite the Differing Viewpoint to dine at my table. It does, however, require that understand that the Differing Viewpoint deserves to dine. Perhaps if we dine at the same table, by chance, we can decide to balance the tension of our "opposing" viewpoints aka yin-yang. This is more of a question that a statement, at this time in my world.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Welcome to the No Way Cafe, and thank you for your thoughtful comment. True that selection results in choosing one over another. The Tao Te Ching says, in one translation anyway, "the sage chooses that and lets go of this." (The Chinese offers some other meanings for this line.) I appreciate your honest self-awareness. We might choose to set certain boundaries with people, for many reasons, but the boundaries that count are the ones in our heart. I might not literally sit down with a person I consider physically dangerous, for example, but can I keep my heart open with compassion? That's why I used the term "heart door." Your willingness to be open to a chance encounter with the idea of balance is all that is necessary to create connection rather than separation. Don't you think? Hope you'll stop by again.

      Delete
  5. I am humbled that you spent your time to respond to my random thought, thank you. You have given me a better understanding of your "heart door" and how it may lead you to be be even more compassionate, kind, accepting and gentle. I do agree with you that if I allow my "heart door" to open so as to seek and "encourage" me to attain interpersonal balance perhaps, then, I will develop a softer ego and a more inviting, harmonious, connection-driven spirit. Thanks for the reminder. This will take some Practice.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Practice indeed! I love the image of the razor's edge. This is where we practice. Not where it's comfortable, but at the very edge of what we can tolerate, because that is where we begin to shut down, to retreat to what is familiar.

      I think that is why Jesus said that loving someone who loves you back is, to paraphrase, no big deal. Even "tax collectors" do that. In modern terms, one might think of people who might be called evil (not tax collectors!) who nevertheless love their children. No, Jesus called us to love without exception. A Buddhist teacher pointed out that flowers bloom, revealing their beauty to any passersby without discrimination. Like the rain and the sun mentioned in the Bible, that falls and shines on all alike.

      We are led by life, almost on a daily basis, to the razor's edge, giving us repeated opportunities to practice! And as soon as we open a little further, the razor's edge moves accordingly. We are always at the razor's edge. How perfect.

      Thanks for your follow up--I enjoy these conversations, so thank YOU.

      Delete

Your comment is valuable and valued. Comment moderation is enabled to block spam, so please excuse the delay until your comment appears on the blog.