I have a friend who is dealing with a broken relationship in his life. He has tried reaching out, apologizing, offering to make good on the accused slight he did to the offending party but nothing has worked. The wounded one doesn’t want anything to do with the other, has expressed his hatred for my friend numerous times, and it is bothering my friend something fierce.
He asked the question; “What else can I do?” after he listed all the things he’s tried to do to make up for something he’s not even sure he did. “You’re going to have to let them hate you.” I know this isn’t the answer he wanted but it was the only answer to give. When someone has been hurt by us whether we meant to or not it is not within our power to make them forgive us, to restore a broken relationship. As soon as we become aware of the pain, betrayal, we’ve caused we should immediately go to them, express a contrite and sincere spirit of sorrow apologizing for the behavior and offer to make penance to satisfy the other who has been wronged. If they accept, that’s great but if they don’t accept we have to live with that and though it’s not easy it is our only option.
What we hope for, pray for, look for every opportunity to make it right again in the future. However, for now, we must bear the burden of hate, knowing we have done all things within our power to right the wrong. We live with their hate and the separation hoping a time will come when both can reconnect and restore what’s been torn apart and destroyed.
Residents in jail can earn the right by good, respectful behavior to work outside of the walls of the correctional facility. They do everything from road maintenance, to landscaping, to animal rescue, assembly line positions, and more. I heard one of them say the other day; “It’s great being able to get out, feel the breeze on my face on the ride there and back but coming back into the jail, putting on the uniform and being surrounded by walls again is the hardest thing I do each day.” According to him, it’s feeling like one has freedom but ultimately, it’s an illusion.
I’ve reflected on his words since then and think it also describes a lot of people who are not residents of the local county correctional facility. We are confined by the walls of our making. We allow others to set the standards of our lives, we worry about presenting ourselves the way we think others want to see us. We overextend ourselves financially, work extra hours, take out more loans, place ourselves on the precipice of financial ruin to; “keep up with the Jones’s.” Social media, instant weather, on the spot news updates and opinion pieces, chain us to our phones. We separate us from them in our politics, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, city vs. country, refugee or citizen, and countless other ways we wall off those different from us.
To be truly free is to recognize these parts of ourselves that are imprisoned, see our illusion, be awakened and empowered to tear down the walls that make us and others prisoners.
The Universe in a Choice –
The idea of the world having a conscious is intriguing. Many wisdom proverbs speak of the commonality every single human being on the planet possesses. We are united and bound together in much more ways than we are separated. Unfortunately, we focus on those few things that divide and in being pulled apart everyone loses.
The last couple of weeks I have been watching an historical documentary series which focuses on the; “what ifs” of the last 100 years. The premise is that if major figures over the last century would have made different choices, thought and acted in different ways our world would be in a better place. From the first two world wars, nuclear bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, Korea, to space exploration, race relations, Vietnam, Desert Storm, financial and housing markets, Operation Freedom, Guantanamo Bay, and other critical turning points that, perhaps, if people would’ve focused on less on themselves and more on others, our world may be a much different place.
Some choices seem to have little consequence on ourselves, those we love and all others who surround us. However, there are decisions which we make that could have a lasting impact on many lives for generations to come.
Wisdom tells us to be mindful, for in every choice hangs the fate of the universe.
Today is; “Cow Appreciation Day.” I had no idea. It wasn’t on my calendar, I didn’t get a card, or buy a cake for the cows across the road whom belong to my next door neighbor. I only discovered the meaning of this day when I was on Twitter this morning and saw the #CowAppreciationDay.
There’s also a more serious discussion happening on social media the last several days following the deaths of two black men and five Dallas police officers. Protests on both sides are popping up in many cities across America and the chant, signs, mottoes being used are; “#BlackLivesMatter, #BlueLivesMatter or #AllLivesMatter. The debate seems to hinge on which slogan to use and which one is insulting to one or all groups.
I haven’t waded into these heated debates and have no plans to do so. I understand, as best I can, both sides of the arguments while conceding that I am a middle-aged white man who has never been treated differently because of the color of his skin nor does my job put me in harm’s way or call on me to make life and death decisions at a moment’s notice on a daily basis. There is passion, pain and persistence on all sides of this needed and difficult discussion.
My heart hurts to see brothers and sisters at war with each other. The vitriol and hate spewed at times by both sides makes me wonder if we’ve ever been or will ever be a nation at peace. I hope so, but to find common ground both sides must admit the sin, damage and harm inflicted purposefully and accidentally upon the other.
The definition of appreciation is; to recognize and enjoy the good qualities of someone or something. It is to value, treasure, admire, respect, regard, hold in esteem or high opinion.
“To recognize and enjoy the good qualities of someone…” Sounds like a good place to start to me.
A friend of mine walked into a metaphorical hornet’s nest today with a social media post on the situation in Dallas, the death of 5 police officers and 2 black American men this week. What was written wasn’t inflammatory or derogatory it was her opinion on the crisis our country finds itself in regards to race, law enforcement and the reality of people being hurt and killed on both sides.
It didn’t take long before someone took offence at the post and began attacking the post and the author. My friend posted back, trying to clarify what was written, but it was too late. The poster had already decided my friend was wrong, ignorant, racist, incompetent, a dreamer.
One of my favorite wisdom quotes:
The mark of a wise man is the ability to think a thought without necessarily believing it to be true. #Aristotle
We live in a world where folks are so quick to choose sides. They formulate an opinion and plant their feet firmly in their belief. We’ve seem to have lost the ability to listen, examine, mull over our opinions and the opinions of others. People like to pretend things are simple. We come up with, or across, slogans, mottoes, memes, social media posts, news articles and use them as weapons to defend our ideologies, prove we’re right and others are wrong. We use them as litmus tests to separate “us” from “them”.
We live in a complicated world where more than one thing can be true and/or false. The issues which plague us are not going to be solved by catchphrases but authentic dialogue. Only when we stop seeing others as “them” and not “us”, only when we sit down and confess the ignorance, biases, judgments that exist on every side. Only when we realize our thoughts, ideas, impressions, opinions and beliefs aren’t necessarily true because we think them will we be able to take the first real step toward healing.
Negativity is like a virus. Spreading, invading, permeating, controlling, manipulating and killing peace, contentment and stillness.
There are moments in our lives where we must choose to walk the path of negativity, strife, anger and hate or walk away, even if it’s from someone we care for and love. These aren’t easy choices and it isn’t necessarily a permanent departure but separation is a must.
Each of us have those in our life who are bitter, spiteful, malevolent people. They criticize, demean, hurl insults and can fill a room with enough emotional turmoil we either choose to enter into combat or retreat to remain, regain, stillness and centeredness. It may bother us to make this choice, we may desire another way, but sometimes it’s our only option.
As much as we may want to help these rancorous ones make the connection between their malignant attitudes and a life littered with strained and broken relationships it doesn’t work. We know because we’ve tried. We still love them but sometimes we just can’t be near them.
Militant, hostile, antagonistic personalities take hostages, tries to make you a prisoner of the moment. You want to return fire with insults of your own, get even, pay back their vindictiveness with derision but, ultimately, no one wins these pitched battles because criticism, pessimism, nihilism, can’t be quenched or defeated. You can only keep it from detonating your spirit by removing the fuse, putting distance between yourself and the other.
I’ve had encounters with negative, spiteful people where my jaw hurts from clenching it shut. Being silent in the face of insult and ridicule can have a tremendous impact. It may take hours, days, to find balance and peace after a run in with someone hell-bent on bringing chaos into the lives of others.
Run ins with argumentative, belligerent folks will drain you, wear on you, and it’s easy to get sucked in to an uncivil, acrimonious, atmosphere that will scorch your spirit and burn out your emotions.
Wisdom helps guide us in discovering if we can defuse or extinguish the toxicity through acts of love, words of calmness or simply knowing when to remove ourselves from the poisonous environment.blessings, bdl