Sunday, January 22, 2017
The Enemy is Me!
Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself. ~Rumi
I began a recent post with Pogo’s quote “We have seen the enemy, and he is us.” The post was about a person who canceled a holiday party rather than invite people who voted for the presidential candidate he voted against. I noted the irony of discriminating against people because they voted for someone who discriminates. I ended the post by saying that the person who canceled the party was welcome at my table, along with those who voted for the other guy.
A friend later observed that my post was “morally smug in its own way, which is how I believe you characterized” the guy who canceled the party.
What?! Me?! You mean that while I’m pointing out the irony of someone judging others for voting for someone who judges others, I myself am judging? That while I am calling out someone for smugly excluding others, I am smugly including everyone? Is that any different?
A Course in Miracles says that we teach what we want to learn. True that, my friend, true that. In my frustration and sadness over the rancor that is splitting up friends and neighbors and families, I tried to pluck the speck from my brother’s eye, while overlooking the log in my own.
Furthermore, my friend asked, would I really welcome everyone to my table? Really? Well, okay, I wouldn’t literally sit down with a serial killer. So how is that different, my friend persisted, from not sitting down with people who don’t agree with my political views? In both cases, there is a choice being made to exclude someone.
I don’t have a good answer to that, except that in the physical world, good boundaries are healthy, and in extreme cases even necessary for survival. But in the realm of spirit, boundaries have a different impact. They block us from sacred union, which is what our spirits yearn for. If we can keep our heart doors open, then perhaps our understanding and compassion can lead to expanded connection, rather than alienation, in our physical world.
The best example I can think of is the Amish community who refused to hate the man who came into one of their schools and shot ten young girls, killing five of them. One author said that, had the killer not died on the scene, the community would have supported whatever consequences the law imposed, and then visited him in prison. Their example lit up the news around the world, and the story became not just one of soul crushing tragedy, but one of soul lifting beauty.
So my challenge is keep my heart open, to welcome, yes truly welcome, everyone to my heart table, if not to my literal table. Of course it’s not easy. And sometimes I fail. But that is where our practice is–at the edge of our comfort zone. The razor’s edge, as it has been aptly described.
Thanks to the friend who held up a mirror, to help me see where my own work lies.
Namaste–The divine in me greets the divine in you. I honor that place in you where, if you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, there is only one of us.