|16 Feb 2006 @ 20:39|
I ask a question, “Can hatred and love abide peaceably in the same house?” They can co-exist so long as love is willing to overlook hatred’s rantings, and hatred tolerates love’s different perspective, which it perceives as weakness. Co-existing is a far cry from fellowship. Fellowship is two becoming one, feeding and drinking in from another, being refreshed by them and refreshing them. If locked in a room, Hatred or Love will be forced to withhold their point of view, being frustrated with fragile truce at best. There will be friction or perhaps they will endure talking about sports and the weather until one of them wants to pick a fight.
Can prejudice and respect co-mingle? Will not one try to convert the other, or write the other off as rigid? If there is a peace it is not based on agreement.
I ask these questions because Unity for Unity’s sake is not going to bring peace. In fact it can bring frustration and confusion. In order for there to peace, certain things have to be universally accepted. Of course, this doesn’t mean we should ever give up on peace or being peace-makers. Rather, we have to understand the complexity of the problems of humanity.
A world without convictions is a world that believes in nothing. The human spirit longs for meaning, and so at our core we seek to believe in something, know why we believe it, and at least know that it is worth standing for. The world benefits by having some convictions. But this leads to frustration, because isn’t it these different convictions that bring about wars and frustration?
If you think I’m throwing my hands up in futility, I’m not. If I believe in love, and another believes in hate; I am not constrained to compromise. How then can there be peace? The key is identifying those core values that are beyond question.
Within the human spirit exists a compass. In some cases, this tool is more refined and a bit truer. On some level, this compass gives us a Universal sense of right and wrong. We all hate being lied to. Unless we squelch our conscience, which is possible, we generally feel horrible when we hurt another. If we fill a stadium anywhere in the world, and some powerfully built man starts kicking a puppy, the entire stadium would cry out in anger for him to stop. We love to see people fall in love, and hate to see love die.
I am saying this for a reason. I need to understand that there is a compass, and what the primary law of that compass is in order to have any hope of appealing to mankind. There is no secret. The primary law of the compass is love. I can’t convince another of that, but have to be convinced of that in order for me to have a starting place to change the world. If I don’t, then I am pissing in the wind as far as others are concerned. If I have no conviction, I have absolutely no chance of changing another person’s heart.
Now, with love as my guide, my view of my enemy changes. They may be prejudiced, they may hate, they may be rigid; but I know that love displayed is powerful. If I choose to hate them, I have agreed that it is okay to hate. This may make no sense, but loving my enemy is the only way to change any enemy. This doesn’t mean I can’t establish a boundary. It doesn’t mean I have to like what they do. However, I have to have the ability to see past their prejudice, their hatred, and see someone of value. I can’t lose sight of that for a moment, even if I am against what they believe.
So, if I am forced to live in a house of hatred, I can hate their hatred, but not them, or I am becoming like them. In a sense, those who believe in love become an ambassador of love; and ambassador’s are not always assigned to friendly countries.
Hatred and love can dwell in a house, as long as love abides and holds true to their convictions. Hatred is an inferior position. Inwardly, so many mechanisms have to take place, hardening ourselves to another’s pain…etc, that it is futility to defend. However, only love can overcome hatred. And by this, I mean stubborn love. The superior position is difficult, requires sacrifice, and therefore must be a conviction; but throughout history, we have examples of those who have overcome the hardened gates of hate with love’s key; because those who hate have something within them, a voice that may be locked in a dark room guarded by fear and anger. Often times that compass is still in there, and a stubborn love can bring it out. More >
|14 Feb 2006 @ 14:00|
In order to grow, we must know who we are. Self-examination is painful for some, and an addiction to others. However, there is a balanced way to approach examining our hearts to see what is there.
First we have to realize that most of the work is to be done in the foundation, and not in the roof. And to some degree we have to be willing to forgive our faults and failings, and the countless things we might have done and thought.
I don't need to dissect every person I've hurt, who has hurt me; but primarily, deal with "Who am I?" and "What has made me the way I am?" and "What must I do to become the person I aspire to be?"
Who am I? Well, there is who the world thinks I am? There is who I think I am? And there is the reality which is often neither of the above.
I may think I am loving and patient, and perfectly justified when I bite someone's head off and spit it out. "I'm a loving person, but you really pissed me off and deserve to be written-off. I'm patient too, but don't ask me to wait more than five minutes, you slow poke!"
The above example is of someone self-deluded. In a world that makes no demands of me, allows me to have all the toys I want, and never is confrontational, I might seem the nicest person in the world. And so, a spoiled brat of a person may seem rather pleasant until someone takes away their rattle. They may be all hugs until someone disagrees with them.
"I'm really a good person, loving and kind; but I want to rip the faces off those who do not agree with my view on politics, religion, or who makes the best pizza."
Well, do you love people, or simply have warm feelings for people who agree with you? If you wish everyone else was thrown in a dumpster and dropped off a bridge, then chances are the level of conditional love you have is far smaller than you might imagine. "Well, I love if unprovoked!"
The level of love is measured by how we treat the least deserving, not the most deserving. It is measured by how we act in kindness when we feel like acting in malice.
I can't change anyone on the face of the earth but me. However, if I become the best I can be, I might inspire others to want to change; and so there is no room in life for a bully pulpit of someone demanding the world to change. If I know a better way, then it sure better make me a better person, because if it doesn't then my words mean nothing and are empty.
There is no motivation in the Universe higher than love, and by the highest definition of love, which is a will to bless another, and pour oneself out for their benefit.
This doesn't mean all people will give me warm cuddly feelings; not by a long shot. But when I say this, I know I am not being a hypocrite, at least not in this.
Has anyone ever prayed, "I want to love more!"? Well, I think I've said this in many ways, far more than once.
If you believe prayers are answered, expect unlovable people to pour into your life, harsh people, mean people, "Personality Disorders-R'-Us" kinds of people.
Do I love? How much? If there are limits, why?
We have to define where we want to go in order to know if we are moving in the right direction. In self-examination there is no advantage to beating ourselves us. Guilt and shame are poor motivators. Rather, we should push aside where we have failed, and simply ask, "Who am I? Who do I want to be? And how do I get there?"
Step one. How do I really treat people? How do they see me? I may feel loving, but do I actually convey love? Do I say, "I love you mom; but when she asks for a simple favor, do I ignore it, and or tell her to leave me alone?"
Often love is measured in simple things, like whether I do something or don't do something, not some whimsical feeling.
"Mom, do you prefer a whimsical feeling, or help with the dishes?" Generally she'll accept help with the dishes or a ride to the store any day of the week.
Here's an easy task. "Who makes you feel loved? Who makes you feel like they are two faced and only give you lip service?" Examine their actions, and what they do to make you feel loved. If we simply turn that around, we begin gaining insight.
For those who want to go to the advanced level of love, it takes learning love languages; and not simply expecting others to guess we love them and accept love on our terms. If they need a gift to feel loved, I'll give a gift. If they need a show of affection to feel loved, I'll show affection.
I can't demand them to accept popcorn if they hate popcorn. "Yeah, but I gave it in love you selfish ungrateful beast! If you can't know love when you see it; stick that popcorn in your ear for all I care!" Nah, love doesn't think that way.
The good thing is that love is infectious. Those who learn the art can cause people to open up who were closed.
Just some thoughts to ponder,
|10 Feb 2006 @ 15:43|
When I was young, I wanted to be Legolas, a carefree Elf, athletic and handsome. Then I wanted to grow up to be Aragorn, adventurous, and unafraid. The young fantasize on what they want to be, and the old fantasize on what they coulda, shoulda been. Very few people are happy in their own skin, and wish we had an order form, permitting us to change our looks, intelligence, height or anything else that might give us an advantage.
Those who've seen a few seasons realize beauty fades. Arthritis and other infirmities take away the strength. Hair may change color, or thin. What was once firm might tend to sag. It may not go away altogether, but there is a sense that we are living in earthly tents that become tattered with weathering.
Those who love Lord of the Rings might laugh that I've chosen these figures to illustrate my point. Legolas is perpetually youthful. Aragorn is perpetually strong and relevant, and his call is forever ahead of him. The Hobbits are perpetually whimsical and carefree. I am none of the above.
And therefore, the key is understanding the beauty of Gandalf, not the strength, powers, or looks. Gandalf's beauty is in having a sense of purpose, a call as it were, and in having years of experience under his belt, so that he can mentor Aragorn, Legolas, Frodo and the inhabitants of Middle Earth.
Gandalf has a sweet spirit, gentle, and patient; and he has a genuine concern. He has convictions. And he is forever pondering the meaning of things, keeping his eye fixed upon a goal and a prize.
Time can weather most every attribute, but a sweet spirit, a font of knowledge, are like fine wine, becoming increasingly valuable with age. Therefore, I am not afraid of time or the weakening of the flesh. I never feel life has passed me by, because I am going forward where strength and athletic ability mean less. We live in a world where insight, knowledge, understanding, and wisdom are needed more than ever. The world needs more Gandalfs. More >
|5 Feb 2006 @ 17:37|
A million voices and countless choices call to us from all directions, saying, “Truth is here! …No, wait; it’s over here!”
Some espouse Plastic Truths that stretch unending, having no fixed boundaries. “Truth bends like a reed in the wind, forever changing, stretching and turning. You can never know anything with certainty. Believe in nothing! Have no convictions! Nothing separates the wise from the fool! A living person is no better off than a dead dog! Buy my book and don’t forget to give me a tax free donation so I can spread my truth! Well…it’s not really truth; because there is no truth…er…it’s all in my book.”
Others call with rigid inflexible dogmas, handed-down pre-packaged beliefs. They say, “Do not bother to think, because I will think for you. Thinking is not safe, and you will be best served if I tell you what to think. …I caught you…you had a question…Don’t you dare think or question what I tell you to think!”
They may promise freedom, but at what cost? “Check your intellect at the door, and simply do as I say, and follow my way. Look at me; I haven’t thought an original thought in decades and wouldn’t even think to think; but believe me, I know what I’m saying, because someone told me it was the truth and never to question it! I have come to the truth without ever questioning anything I’m told. And what’s more; I can get you a discount on a leaders book, which tells you what to think, what not to think. It’s risk free, but do not expect any money-back guarantee!”
It’s sad. So many plead for, even demand our total devotion; and yet, when we sift through the large words and arguments, we find emptiness and smelly wind.
Belief is not benign. Whatever we believe colors our lives. There is no such thing as “risk free” thinking. What we believe impacts who we are, what we will do, and most importantly how we see and treat each other. If we are motivated toward action or inactivity, it will ultimately have consequences.
Packaged thinking is for not for me. If not thinking is a requirement to get into heaven, then I am eternally lost. I reason, in a reasonable universe of dolphins and eagles and children, reason cannot be an evil thing. In a Universe of mysteries, thinking must be permitted. I refuse to check my brain at the door, whether it makes others uncomfortable or not. There is something wrong with a picture in which I am not allowed to make my own choices, or question another’s point of view.
Some would say there is a homing device inside each of us searching for answers? Why is it in our very nature to question, “Why daddy”, if questions offer us no advantage?
If mankind drops out of the quest for truth, deciding to numb its senses through a barrage of constant entertainment and countless distractions; I will keep seeking. Some believe, “Truth is for misfits, not sensible people!” Are they better off bombarding their senses with every pleasure inducing devise and chemical known to mankind? The human heart is not content with this world, and grasps for what is beyond. Seeking is the better choice; and seeking with our eyes open is better still.
I once pondered, “Is it better to be dumb and happy if the truth isn’t as pleasant as I’d like; or is it better to be deluded? None should prefer delusion; but the nature of truth is that it doesn’t bend to fit our wants, but rather forces us to deal with whatever reality might be. In other words, if I’m an ugly duck, I might prefer to be self-deluded that I am the most beautiful duck in the world; but there is some mechanism inside me that wants to know where I truly stand.
If you are like me, you also have this homing devise, an insatiable desire ‘To know!’ Long ago, when I first entered the crossroads of reason, I realized truth may not be all bliss. There is nothing like the stark reality of suffering in this world to cause us to question the nature of all things, including good and evil. I had no clue whether there was a God/gods, whether he/they/whatever were inherently good, or mixed, or worse. All I knew is that my concept of reality didn’t change anything. If someone exists, I can’t make them not exist. If they don’t exist, I can’t blink them into being like “I dream of Jeannie.” God/gods were not dependent on me. They just are; if they are. And my quest, if I should take it, is to seek to know, if knowing was possible. (This was, and is my approach) I'm not saying I know nothing. However, what I believe was not a package handed to me, but something tested, thought out, and through this approach, we come to know it's what "we believe", and not what we were told to believe or swayed to believe, or tricked to believe.
I have beliefs, but will not tell others what to think, because that is only an opinion, right or wrong. If they desire to know what I believe and why; I'm glad to share my journey. None of us should imply that truth means shutting our minds off, which is the ultimate control and manipulation tact.
However, I am one on a quest speaking to others on a quest. We may know few things fully in this world, but there are breadcrumbs of truth all around us if we are looking. We gain a clearer picture of truth through following the trail before us. I'm not saying we need a mystical experience to grow and learn. Mystical experiences do not make superior people. I'm not against Mystical experiences; but they can’t always be relied upon as a clear path to truth. An exerience should never make or break a person’s beliefs. They should be seen in a context.
Those who have studied will tell you that virtually all religions believe in lying spirits. A religious experience can therefore be as false as a liar's voice. Therefore, wisdom will question all things with the intention of knowing whether truth is in a matter or not.
Thinking is good. Observing and questioning help us come to realizations. This World, and this Universe speak volumes. We can look at eagles, and learn. We can look at the instincts in animals and derive answers to questions. We can look at macro or micro, looking at the cells of any organism, or the order of the stars, and come up with conclusions. If we cannot question what we believe, then we are likely bound to Archetypical* thinking; in which we follow pre-digested thoughts and beliefs. This does not mean we will never come to answers, but answers that are tested and tried and go through fire are the strongest answers. This does not mean a person cannot accidentally be right in what they think; but a belief untested is a belief that cannot be relied upon; and I think some things are worth scrutiny for the sake of knowing that we have found a bedrock, and are not standing in silt.
* My own definition of Archetypes differs from Jung’s own. I see Archetypes as mostly deriving from conscious arguments at the first. These arguments become so deeply rooted, they become an excuse not to think, and wind up deeply ingrained societal beliefs which are handed down through fortified arguments for so long, entire people groups become enslaved to them. They swallow them whole without actually engaging their minds. From the time we are children, beliefs and microbeliefs are taught to us. And by the time we are adults, we may not realize how many pre-digested arguments we have accepted without question. Perhaps it is in our natures to fall into Archetypical thinking, and never to question, “Why?” This inherently lazy thinking is so Universal, where others would rather have another think for them, one has to wonder if it is a flaw in human nature? Because of this, I believe part of coming to know anything requires breaking down what we already accept, and asking, “Why?” If we come to the same conclusion, at least this time we know why we believe something.
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|1 Feb 2006 @ 13:49|
Castles made made of snow is a poem I wrote to convey that there is a difference between temporary beauty and lasting beauty. Grass withers, and flowers fade, but the fruit of love is eternal. The imagery is of a grand sparkling ice-castle, glistening in the sun, seemingly a jewel from heaven. But it has little substance, and is in a sense, nothing more than window dressing.
Much of what we do in life fits in this category. A trophy won in a game fades. In fact, our beauty fades. But if we choose wisdom, expressions of love, acts of kindness, understanding, and invest in these areas, the return never diminishes or fades, and can set in motion good that last and replicates:
Castles Made of Snow
Castles made of snow, white promises, glistening like diamonds in the sun; are but empty pledges and lies.
You are more fleeting than the sunset stealing over the
mountain, beautiful, but never lasting more than the
In the heat of the wise sun, your foundations melt like wax, and your walls crumble. Will you leave the White Knight slipping in a puddle? But alas, you are lovely, and seemingly pure, but only for as long as you last!
N Marion Hage © 1/7/06 More >
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True love is more than a feeling, it's an act of the will. Feelings can be fleeting, and should be the tail in our decision making process, and never the head. In other words, if I don't feel like loving today, I should not avoid doing what love requires on that basis. If someone needs me, I must look at our relationship, and make an informed choice to sometimes show love when I least feel like it.
We understand that parents must be there for children, even when they anger us, or disappoint us. This same principle is true for all relationships.
If I waited to do the right thing until I was "moved" to do the right thing, most times, the right thing wouldn't get done. For this reason, we need a hierarchy of values and principles. For me, love is the highest value. If I pass someone in need, I may not feel particularly loving on that day. In fact, helping them may be an inconvenience, or worse. It may cost me. It's not what we do that we 'feel like doing', that often defines us, but what we do when we don't feel much like doing it. I can hug someone who makes me feel squishy with delight. It's hugging those I don't feel like hugging, because in my will, I do care, that defines me. If I care, but my feelings are disconnected, this doesn't make me insincere. It makes me realize that sometimes my feelings lag behind what I know to be right. Often, I have reached out to people that I didn't really feel warm feelings for. In fact, some were difficult and cold. However, I often was rewarded by seeing the light of life sparked in their eyes. Sometimes we are like a match that kindles a warm flame in a cold fireplace. They have the fuel, but need someone to light it. I have never regreted the risks of love, but have often regreted not taking the risk. Love the unlovely. Love the seemingly unloveable. I don't mean you should risk putting yourself before hostility. In that case, you might want to get a second or third opinion. But in most cases, we pass cold and distant people, and they seem as walking dead. Sometimes its simply because of fear and inner loneliness, and they are beaten down and afraid to open up. The risks of love pale in comparrison to the rewards. |