Tag Archives: race

Dignity and Decency

Wow, it’s the end of December and I haven’t posted in a while. I think the holidays took over my brain like an alien, turning me into one of Santa’s pod people. Truly, until the 26th hit, I wasn’t sure if I was on the ground or on my way to Oz. And now… I will happily use my massage gift certificates to get ready the joy that is or will be 2018. I used my first gift card (thanks Howard and Hazel!) for some reflexology on my feet. Well, actually, she managed a full body massage more or less and it was awesome. About half way through, I couldn’t stand it anymore. I felt very rude because I’d never asked the lady’s name and hadn’t been introduced. All I knew was that her English was minimal and she would understand if I said “too hard.” So I found out her name, or at least the one she uses so that I don’t mangle her real one and we moved on. I wanted to ask what language she speaks and learn to say thank you.

 In the midst of all this, I noticed how virtuous and (gag) nice I felt for thinking these things during a massage. When did basic human decency start being something I patted myself on the back for? When did recognizing the basic humanity of others become something I had to remind myself of? Yikes! Earlier in the week, I had talked with a colleague about the ad hoc group I belong to called Quad City Interfaith Council. We were partially formed around the idea of honoring the dignity of all people. How is it that we have to have committees to make sure this happens? I think we could be better than this.

My intention and invitation for 2018, therefore is this: I’m going to go back to an old practice that helped a lot in a dark time. I’m going to spend my commute to work practicing seeing the face of the Divine in everyone I pass and everything I see. It was easy when I was taking the bus in a big city. I wonder if it will be harder or easier from my car out here in the country. It doesn’t matter, really. Being surrounded by love and beauty and good is a gift I can give myself and I won’t even need a holiday or gift card! And maybe next year, I’ll be part of a bridge of good manners and decency that crosses the divide of race and religion and unconsciousness.

Breaking News

I’ve just started listening to Brenè Brown’s new book about belonging. She refers to this as an increasingly divisive and divided world. She cites the current political and social chaos as part of the issue, but also talks about how it feels unsafe to say who you are and what you believe in. Everything in me wants to argue with her about whether this world is really all that divided. Yes, it’s what’s in the news these days. Who can be surprised by that? We are wired to focus on what’s wrong so that we don’t get eaten by T. Rexes and so we pay lots of attention to those voices who Rawr loudly and point their tiny talons at the “problem” people.

Before the internet gave the megaphone to a small group of malcontents, those unhappy people were mostly ignored. Downside; minorities could be ignored and abuse continued. Upside; terrorists didn’t get their egos stroked. In truth, nothing has changed except that we are more conscious of the things going on around the world than we’ve ever been. With so many different voices speaking up, it’s bound to create some chaos.

Out of chaos comes a new creation. Yes, things look grim these days. The news has not been about how many puppies were born safely yesterday. Nor has it been about how many lives were NOT lost because we can treat depression more effectively, because there’s a push towards greater acceptance of minorities and less acceptance of racism and even that the number of truly poor people in the world is dropping drastically. Did you know that peace is breaking out all over in record numbers? Seriously, google it. Just because we are now more aware of the problems in the world doesn’t mean that there are more problems in the world. It means we are waking up. We are, more and more of us, “woke”. We are learning that what isn’t pretty can still be beautiful.

Post Election Thoughts

A lot of people are in fear this morning as we face the consequences of the presidential election. A lot of people are very happy, too. If you are in the first group, I urge you to go to prayer. If you can’t get to a place of love on your own, if your grief is not ready for that, please make a point of calling a practitioner (contact information is at www.cslprescott.org). There is support available to you. And if there was ever a time to engage in spiritual practice, this is it.

As members of the Centers for Spiritual Living, we as a community need to remember a few things. Our primary principle is Oneness. Other important values include diversity and inclusivity. I believe that as Religious Scientists it is our calling to support our friends and neighbors who are of color, who are of other faiths and who are of the LGBTQ community. That support might be a phone call. It might be speaking up when we hear racist, homophobic or misogynistic talk. It might mean staying in constant prayer to know what is really ours to do. When we affiliated with the Centers for Spiritual Living, we agreed to practice the principles and espouse the values of the Centers. These are just a few.

And this is not the end of the world. It might be the end of the world we knew, or the end of our perception of the world we thought we lived in. However, I will point out that Ernest Holmes began defining this philosophy in the midst of World War I, and continued teaching it through the Great Depression and World War II. This is a great time to prove the principles. This is a time for which this philosophy was created. If we let go of it now, we prove that we never really knew Truth. It’s time to practice what we have studied, create that world that works for everyone and see the Christ in each other. Our calling is no less than this.

Trigger warnings

I think I should come with a trigger warning. Actually, I think spirituality should come with a trigger warning and as a spiritual leader, I should have one tattooed somewhere obvious. I decided this when I woke up to rain this morning and realized that sitting on the couch and getting caught up with the news was going to be my spiritual practice.

I saw whole bunches of opinions on which charity is most trustworthy if you want to help folks in Haiti now that they’ve been flooded. I saw opinions about the Susan G Komen foundation and whether or not they really are a great help in the search for a cure for breast cancer. And I saw lots and lots of opinions about the latest scandal in the presidential election.

I doubt any of you are under the impression that I don’t have a personal opinion about climate change, immigration, the election or how a person should speak to or about another person regardless of gender. However, my job isn’t to spout my opinion. It’s not unlike my advice: free to everyone and worth every penny.

My job, and my calling in this world, is to look at what my opinion and how I express it says about my own state of consciousness. So for instance: in my opinion none of the current nominees for president is perfect. In my state of consciousness, none of them need to be. Asking for any individual to be perfect is asking for that person to lie to me. If we require everyone in public office to be perfect, we will only have liars running for office. People who are real, people who are willing to get their hands dirty and who admit when they mess up or change their stance on the issues because they have learned new facts – these people are the ones I like and tend to trust. Authenticity is one of my core values; human perfection is not.

Some folks will quote Dr. Holmes as having said two different things about the same issue. Depending on when he was writing, he might contradict himself on a specific issue. If the man had never changed his thinking in the course of his forty plus years in his career, I certainly wouldn’t be teaching this philosophy which is based on the idea that we can change our thinking.

Although I have the greatest of respect for our founder, I don’t know that I would necessarily ask him questions how to live my life and deal with my specific issues. He gives us pointers on how to think, how to examine our thinking and encourages us to actually think for ourselves. He can’t tell me how to be a woman in the 21st Century, dealing with the issues of this particular election. Similar situations, yes. This specific election, no. I can make intelligent guesses based on what he faced in his time and how he handled it.

And that brings me to the trigger warning. In this election and in every part of your life, as a spiritual human being, you will be triggered. As you become more conscious, you will be triggered more. Eventually, you will come to see all those buttons that get pushed as a gift – they show you where your shadow is hiding, where you have healing left to do in your consciousness and where your green and growing edges are. Consider yourself warned by the Chief Button Pusher at the Center for Spiritual Living Prescott.

Reconciliation

This week we had a special service at CSLP that we call Taize. It’s based on a reconciliation service that was started in the Burgundy region of France in a town called Taize. It was post-WWII and the town had been torn apart. There were folks from all sides, injuries and heartbreak to spare in everyone. Somehow, the folks in that town had to move on and learn to see each other as people again. There’s lots more history on the web and it’s a fascinating story, but I’m more focused today on how it relates to right here and now.

One of my heroes is Eugene Holden. He’s a practitioner within our movement and the director of our World Ministry of Prayer. He recently wrote, “”Let us not be fooled, we are at war here folks. As evidenced by the events in Dallas, Texas. And let us be clear here, this is a not a battle between white and black or good and evil. It is a battle of consciousness. And this battle is an internal one. Internal to the nation. Internal to ourselves. The phrase jihad was initially longer. It was jihad al nufs, meaning battle of the soul. Yes, this is an inside job.”

I agree that our country is and has been at war. We war on drugs, on poverty and on terror. We see each other as colors, as genders and, worst of all, The Other. So we need to figure out how to see each other as people again. It can be done. Yes, people have died. Yes, there’s centuries of history behind the racism and sexism and many other –isms. But what I see in my world is a lot of people that are willing to do better. I hear people of good conscience talking not just about what’s wrong, but what we can do.

What can we do? I’m in prayer a lot. I’m doing a lot of reality checking about whether things are awful or just feel awful. There’s sometimes a difference between my emotional truth and the verifiable facts. Our Taize service is aimed at helping all of us make that shift together. And how about being the voice of moderation on social media and during casual conversations? When I hear “oh-those-awful” fill in the blank with your choice of group or politician to fear “are-going-to-destroy-this-country,” I know that’s the voice of fear speaking, every single time. I answer it with something that says that while it’s important to face facts, we don’t have to forget that these are not the only facts and that we might not even have true facts.

Now, understand, I said I’ve been trying this stuff. I didn’t say it all worked for me or that I do it 100% of the time. What I love about this spiritual path is that I can just do my best in any given moment and that’s enough. I don’t need to be eligible for sainthood anytime soon (or late, for that matter). In this Center, we run the experiments that are required to find our “best practices”. That’s really all we do – keep trying until we find a few things that work. That’s it.

Please feel free to add what you’re trying or make any other comments.