Hey, is anyone listening?
Today, Tuesday, March 25th, is my husband’s birthday. When I asked him a few days ago what he wanted for his birthday, he answered, “World peace.” So, being the loving wife that I am, I am going to see what I can do to fulfill his request.
I have been thinking lately about how the premise of this site is that the root cause of the problems of the world is our separation theology, and thinking about how that manifests, not in the obvious things, like war, violent crime, etc., but in things that touch our lives every day. And that word, “touch” seems to me to be a key.
We have made touch, the most basic and fundamental human connection possible, suspect, and all but impossible too often. In Korea it is getting a little less strict I am told, but when I lived there in the mid 1990’s, a woman didn’t even hold hands with a man until he was her fiance. In order to receive the human touch craved, men held hands with men, and women with women…I witnessed soldiers lined up in pairs as security for a Michael Jackson concert holding hands.
I had a Japanese foreign exchange student shyly tell us that she had a very traditional father who never touched her, and after having my husband include her in the cuddles with our daughters, she realized how much she not only missed her father’s touch, but needed it.
My own father, (and many fathers of daughters of his generation onward), upon the noticing that my body was transforming from girl to woman, stopped touching and hugging me, lest he be labeled as a perverted father.
My mother observed that hers was a “proper” British family where displays of affection, public or otherwise, were simply not expected.
I think that it is little wonder that the sex trade is burgeoning with touch being so regulated, and women and men now constantly on the lookout for inappropriate touch…so much so that we now do not touch one another with any affection for fear of being charged with harassment.
Do not for one moment get me wrong, though, women, and men have been subjected to genuine harassment and this was truly an issue that was rightfully dealt with. I have very intimate knowledge of “inappropriate” touch. But there has been equally genuine, in my view, collateral damage caused by the “fix”. Touch became off limits entirely, in any workplace or casual setting. One often deems it too dangerous to figure out where the line between okay and not okay is, and we perpetuate our physical isolation out of fear of litigation.
Because of this lack of, but, none the less requirement for, touch, massage, an acceptable way of being touched, has burgeoned as well, thank goodness, but it is not enough. It is still only the touch of a stranger.
I’m moving closer to my gift to my husband, I promise you!
I am a hugger. Oh, how I like to hug! I didn’t know I liked to hug until, at age 19, when I was in a church folk group, the group visited a Charismatic church of another denomination, and everyone hugged! I returned home and began hugging everyone! This was not in the comfort zone, to be sure, and 40 years later there is still one brother whom I hug, but much more formally, because it remains uncomfortable for him. BUT…one day, a while after I began hugging, my mother thanked me for bringing hugging back into the family. She had missed it.
A friend recently posted something on Facebook that indicated hugs longer than 20 seconds do wonderful things to our bodies, akin to falling in love! I understand that completely, and I think most of us innately do. I have had this demonstrated to me on more than one occasion. I was once, for instance, at a gathering with old friends in Taiwan, and, with the wait staff formally lined up outside in the hall, I hugged every old friend as I said goodbye to them. When the last of my friends was properly hugged, I looked over at the wait staff, and one of them put out her hands in a gesture that said, “Me, too?” No English involved, only the power of touch…and each and every staff person stepped into my arms for their hug of appreciation, and connection!
Two days ago was also my 41st wedding anniversary, and talking about touch reminds me of when, after I had been married just over a year, my husband asked me if I still loved him. I was stunned! I asked him what would make him ask such a thing, and his response was, “You hardly ever touch me any more.” That was the moment that I recognized that the way I was raised, with touch being minimal, was being passed on through me. I consciously changed that. In fact, just last week an old friend of mine commented that she liked being around us because we still laugh…and we still touch one another affectionately!
In another exampling instance, I gave my husband a hug in the grocery store a couple of weeks ago. I was simply happy to be with him after being on an extended trip away from him. A few minutes later a man tapped me on the shoulder and told me how wonderful it was that I did that, and in public, and actually thanked me!
So, here I am, after remembering all of these things, and thinking about what this site is all about, and what my husband’s birthday wish is…and I am going to ask all who read to look at their own lives and see where simple human touch is lacking. I am going to ask all to be open to falling in love with another person for twenty seconds and give a meaningful hug…to your child, to your parents, to your spouse, or even to a stranger that you can just sense needs a hug.
I am going to ask you to be open enough, to be vulnerable enough to ask someone for a hug when you need it. It could literally be the beginning of reaching out, knowing you are not alone, that saves your life.
I am going to ask you to stop some of the separateness in our world, by stopping, literally, some of the physical separation in your world. I have observed that when we feel physically connected, we feel an impulse to connect in even more profound ways.
I am asking you to transform the world through the power of touch…that I may give my husband World Peace for his birthday.
Happy Birthday, sweetie…I love you hugely!
(Therese Wilson is a published poet, and is the administrator of, and Spiritual Helper at, the global website at www.cwghelpingoutreach.com She may be contacted at: Therese@TheGlobalConversation.com.)
I remember the exact date that my path in life began going in directions I had never even thought about. It was February 5, 1983. I was going to be the DM for a group of friends who were getting together to play Dungeons & Dragons at the apartment of a girl I worked with at a fast food restaurant. Her boyfriend had driven out to one of his classmate’s houses to bring him into the city to play. The minute his friend walked into the room, I turned to my co-worker, who was sitting beside me, and said, “I’m going to marry that man.” I was so sure (without any reason to be sure! I didn’t even know his name at this point!) that I asked him to move in with me that night and two weeks later, he did just that.
His beliefs were about as far from the Roman Catholic up-bringing as they could be and it was through many long talks with him that I started down the spiritual path that led me to my current faith (or, as I prefer to call it, knowledge!) On that journey, I learned from my different teachers: Richard Bach, Shirley MacLaine, Louise Hay, Marianne Williamson, Ann Hardin Strauss, June Burke, Neale Donald Walsch,…the list is long. While every one of those teachers had a different way of explaining what they were teaching, they were ultimately teaching the same thing: that we are where we are in our life because of choices we have made, either consciously or on deep soul level.
I have shared my beliefs with many people over the last 30 years in many different ways through many different forums and I have found that most people are very resistant to the idea that they are the co-creators of their universe. One would think that such an idea would be joyously embraced! We no longer have to feel victimized! We can feel empowered and make choices as to where we want our life to go with total freedom! But so many people get caught in a trap, confusing responsibility with blame.
To say that there are no victims immediately puts someone’s defenses up. “What about someone who is raped? What about children who are abused? What about the couple who are sleeping in their beds and someone comes in an murders them? Are you saying they’re responsible for their own rape? Their own abuse? Their own murders?”
Yes, I assure them, that is exactly what I’m saying.
Before I can clarify anymore, the response that follows is usually something along the lines of, “You have one screwed up belief system if you think those people are to blame for the things that happened to them through no fault of their own!”
Responsibility and blame are not the same thing. We often use the words interchangeably but they are vastly different in this spiritual context.
Responsibility means simply that one acknowledges that one’s choices have co-created the situation in which they find themselves. For example, for the couple murdered in their beds, they chose where to live, they chose whether or not to be home that night, they chose to be sleeping at that time. What other deep soul choices they made are not something we can determine, but it is certain that they were made because otherwise the event would not have happened!
Blame, on the other hand, implies that someone did something wrong. (Yes, I know that there really is no such thing as “right” or “wrong”, but these are the limitations of our language when discussing these issues.) That if they had done “X” instead of “Y”, they could have avoided being murdered. Moreover, blame can also imply that the person should have known better than to choose “X” and should have no better and chosen “Y” from the start!
The couple who is murdered is not responsible for the actions of their murderer. They are only responsible for their own actions and choices. Those choices, along with those of the murderer, were such that at that point in time, their choices brought them all into the same time and space. At that moment when their “timelines” crossed, the murderer had several choices and the couple is not responsible for any of them.
I think another reason so many people have difficulty with the concept of being responsible for where we are in life is that they don’t believe that someone would make a soul choice that would result in their being subjected to rape or abuse or murder. The idea that someone would “sacrifice” their long-term physical safety in order to allow their fellow human beings to demonstrate Who They Really Are is something many people seem to be unable to accept. The reasons for that, in my humble opinion, can be traced back to religious ideals. But that’s discussion is for another day.
I think the following short story illustrates the idea of “sacrifice” very nicely.
I know a man who had a very abusive father. I once asked this man, in the early stages of my new spiritual journey, why he would choose to have an abusive father.
His answer was simple and yet eloquent. “Because I had the ability to stop the cycle of abuse.”
Accepting responsibility is not the same as accepting blame. Accepting responsibility empowers us to take control of our lives and make it what we want it to be. It allows us to respond to life in whatever manner we choose! Accepting blame relegates us to being victims of another’s actions. We must react to what life gives us and give up control of our lives to those who have “victimized” us.
Which option sounds better to you?
Here in the United States there is a commercial for a luxury car model (Cadillac ELR) that has people moving to their respective corners once again. The nasty names have once again started flying..liberal, conservative, right winger, lefty, commie, socialist, anti-American, anti-hard work…and on and on and on.
I would first like to present the text of the advertisement and then comment:
(Man standing looking over his swimming pool)
Why do we work so hard? For what? For this? For stuff? Other countries, they work, they stroll home, they stop by the cafe, they take August off. Off. Why aren’t you like that? Why aren’t we like that?
(Strolls into his upscale home, past his studying children in the den, through the kitchen where he gives a low high five to his wife towards bedroom.)
Because we’re crazy, driven, hardworking believers. Those other countries think we’re nuts. Whatever. Were the Wright Brothers insane? Bill Gates? Les Paul? Ali? Were we nuts when we pointed to the moon? That’s right. We went up there, and you know what we got? Bored. So we left. Got a car up there, left the keys in it. Do you know why? Because we’re the only ones going back up there, that’s why.
(Goes into bedroom, changes from casual clothes into business suit, comes out saying…)
But I digress. It’s pretty simple. You work hard, you create your own luck, and you gotta believe anything is possible.
(Strolls out to driveway, unplugs his electric car and gets in.)
As for all the stuff, that’s the upside of only taking two weeks off in August. N’est-ce pas?
It’s pretty easy to see why there is some polarity here. What’s wrong with “stuff”? Nothing, in and of itself. What’s wrong with working hard? Nothing, in and of itself.
What’s “wrong” for me here, is wrapped up in the illusions of humans as set out in “Conversations With God”, and the illusion that is glaring at me here is the illusion of “Superiority”.
This commercial says that one way is better than another way, not in terms of what works for me vs. what works for you, but in a way that diminishes what works for you. It defines one way of being “American”, as the “right” way…the superior way. It insinuates that other ways of being and doing things, in other parts of the world, are inferior, lazy, not valuable.
From “What God Said” pg. 154-155
Life’s Greatest Seduction
I have learned and I have experienced that there is nothing more seductive in human life than the idea of superiority. …
It turns out that all of us are equal in the eyes of God—a statement that is astonishingly and breathtakingly true, but a statement that the world’s religions cannot accept, cannot embrace, cannot endorse, and dare not suggest to anyone. For all of the world’s religions, and all the world’s political parties for that matter, and certainly the world’s so-called upper classes, depend for their very existence on the notion that somehow, in some way, they are “better” than another religion, party, or class. Take away superiority and you take away that which many people and groups feel is special about themselves.
Superiority wouldn’t be so bad if we did not use it as justification for discriminating against others—to say nothing about warring with others. But the idea of superiority is so ultimately ugly that it cannot produce anything save ultimately ugly results. …”
According to Craig Bierley, Cadillac’s advertising director this ad was aimed at a strictly American audience and, according to an AdAge article “Rather than millionaires, the spot’s targeted at customers who make around $200,000 a year. They’re consumers with a ‘little bit of grit under their fingernails.’ Right up front, Mr. McDonough dismisses the idea the reason American work so hard is to buy “stuff.” What he’s really saying is that Americans work hard because that’s what they love to do.” It is very hard to justify that the ad isn’t about promoting superiority when the product isn’t mentioned once in the text the actor reads, and isn’t even seen in the commercial until the very last few seconds. Further, any ad executive who believes that, in this world of instant global communication, an ad like this is going to remain viewed by only an American audience is either lying or exceedingly naive.
For me, the message of the commercial isn’t about selling a product, it is about selling the lie, which will sell the product. It is asking you to define yourself though outside things, like the car, the house, the pool, the stuff, and view yourself superior to those who define themselves differently, or do not have those things.
And what happens when we begin to view ourselves as superior? We separate. We become us vs. them. “They” no longer hold the same value as “us” and it becomes easier to do harm to another because we no longer believe that in harming that other we harm ourselves as well. We move into a world of justification and rationalization that skews our views and removes us from seeing the total picture of our actions.
This commercial is, again to me, a sign that those who believe in “ours is just another way, not a better way” are being heard. This commercial tells me that the strong appearance of what I do not wish to create means that what I DO wish to create is there, if not fully seen. That the powers that be see the pushback and are pushing harder to overwhelm the pushers with shiny messages intended to divert.
Right now Superiority is producing some very ugly results, and this commercial does nothing but highlight that ugliness, even as it cloaks the ugliness cleverly in the seductions of the current, old, paradigm.
(Therese Wilson is a published poet, and is the administrator of, and Spiritual Helper at, the global website at www.cwghelpingoutreach.com She may be contacted at: Therese@TheGlobalConversation.com.)
Apologies to the rest of the world, but this is aimed more at the advertising industry in the United States and how they use the subconscious mind to brainwash Americans into believing that a.) there’s something “wrong” with them, b.) they should be ashamed of what’s “wrong” with them, c.) if they don’t fix what’s “wrong” with them they will never be happy and d.) that that advertiser has THE perfect fix for what “ails” them.
Make no mistake: the advertising industry is fully aware of what they are doing. They spend billions of dollars each year coming up with ads that send subtle messages to the subconscious mind. Have you noticed how, in the last 20 years, the pace of many commercials has gone from dialog to a head-spinning flash of images and words and music? The conscious mind is often not able to take in the huge quantity of images and sounds and but the subconscious mind remembers everything. But without guidance from the conscious mind, the subconscious draws its own conclusions from what it sees and hears.
There are several commercials for a medication that treats plaque psoriasis, a skin disease that creates red, raised often scaly patches of skin. It is a disease of the immune system. It’s not something you can catch from someone else; it’s not something you get because you don’t have good hygiene; it’s in no way an indication of what kind of person you are. And yet if you watch the commercial for the medication, you are led to believe that you should be embarrassed and ashamed because you have plaque psoriasis. I understand people are going to judge others based on appearance, but rather than suggesting that those who need the medication not give into the stigmatization of those who have the disease, it reinforces the stigma by showing people staring at the red patches and then walking away or looking at the person with plaque psoriasis with scorn. It even talks about the “embarrassing” problems of plaque psoriasis.
Then there’s the commercials for incontinent products. They promise to ship them in plain brown boxes so that no one knows what you’re getting. They too say something about no more embarrassing trips to the store. Incontinence is a medical condition! It has a plethora of causes, ranging from traumatic injury to cancer to old age.
Women have been told they must shave their legs and their underarms and to that end the business world has developed razors with built-in moisturizers, waxes, sprays and even some hair-removal piece of equipment that fits in the palm of your hand. No more embarrassing hair issues! As if where the hair on your body grows is within your control, so you should be embarrassed if it grows where society says it shouldn’t grow!
Men are not immune to being shamed by commercials! You’re not a “real man” unless your body looks like the ones on those body building commercials. Or unless you can achieve an erection at the drop of a hat!
Both men and women have been told they should be ashamed if they’re experiencing thinning hair, as if it is within their control how much of their hair they lose during their lifetime. Testimonials from satisfied clients talk about how embarrassed they were by their appearance before they had their treatment.
And these are just some of the things that we humans really don’t have any control over, but according to the advertisers, we should still be ashamed that this is an issue in our life!
Then, of course, there’s your common, everyday commercials that suggest that your car isn’t big enough, fast enough or have enough gadgets to hold your head up in the neighborhood. Or you’re not eating the right foods or drinking the best bottled water or wearing the correct shoes or your dishes aren’t spot free and if you just buy their brand, you’ll be on top of the world and everyone will look up to you and respect you and think what an amazing person you are.
The advertisements don’t always have to be on television either. Magazines that are supposed to be “empowering” women have ads on virtually every other page that tell women they look too old and need some cream or treatment to prevent aging, that they don’t look really pretty unless you wear a certain eye liner or mascara or foundation, and, of course, your hair has to colored so that no one can see any grey because God forbid you be proud of your grey hairs! And you must be skinnier. Always.
There are some studies who say that most Americans see anywhere from 3,000-10,000 advertising images every single day! Others put the number at about 250. But just think about how many times you see ads on your cell phone, on billboards, on the television, how many ads you hear on the radio, how many you read in magazines.
Each one of these ads is saying something to your subconscious and the vast majority of the time, the message is not a healthy one. Most of them tell your subconscious that you are not as good as the person who uses the product being advertised. Most of them tell your subconscious you are somehow “less” if you use another product. Most imply that you are lacking something vital without their product in your home. Some even flat out state that you should be embarrassed for conditions that are beyond your control.
Next time you sit down to watch TV or listen to the radio or read a magazine, pay attention to the messages that are being delivered to your subconscious mind. Until you are aware that these messages are being projected, you can’t do anything to counter them! Instead of buying into the shaming tactics of advertisers, be proud of Who You Are!
CwG tells us that we are all perfect just the way we are! That Goddess loves us unconditionally and accepts us without question! We do not need to change anything about ourselves in order to be acceptable to and loved by the Divine! That we have nothing to be ashamed about because there are no mistakes. Everything is the way it is supposed to be because we co-created it that way!
Celebrate that which makes you a unique individuation of the Divine! You have a unique role in the Divine plan and no one but you can play that part, so let your light shine and don’t hide it under a blanket of shame because some advertiser wants to sell you a product you don’t really need.
The gladiators stand in the tunnel surveying the crowd, awaiting their fate, hoping to have some control of the outcome. The crowd, that fickle crowd, will decide, in the end, the death or the glory of the gladiator.
Bones crunch, heads snap, bodies bleed, when body hits body at full speed. The gladiator rises, again and again, to meet the onslaught of his opponent. Sweating, cursing his body for not doing what he thought he had trained it to do in preparation for this day, this event. He’s done this before…fought for his life and his glory before, but today that crowd is different. It’s not on his side today.
He’s known this day would come for as long as he could remember. As a youth he knew his ability in the games of youth set him apart, but he could see what happened to those lesser bodies that succumbed to even minor injuries. Thumbs down. His physical presence was destined to raise him above his social circumstances, but he also knew he would one day pay the price.
When his tendon snapped, and his knee bent backward with the onslaught of the physical wall, he knew this would be the day he would pay that price. This was the thumbs down day he dreaded. This was the day his life, as he knew it, would end.
The crowd gasped. The crowd applauded his lifelong effort to survive and entertain them….and then the crowd turned their thumbs down and walked away, because, in their secret heart of hearts, this was exactly what they came to see…the falling of the best of the best. The mighty fallen.
Sound like a story of ancient Rome? It should, but it is also the same sad game being played out in arenas today, even though it is called something different. In America one of the the most violent incarnations is called Football.
Football is arena war. Football is using the young, raising them up, and then abandoning them when they can no longer entertain. Too many players with identities caught up exclusively in the sport. Football glorifies violence, just as does the military, and says that the positive things it instills, like teamwork and discipline, supersede the foundational premise of the game. This is the public relations lie. Domination, winner vs. loser, bragging rights…superiority. It is among the accepted ways of channeling testosterone when there is no war, and working testosterone into a frenzy of camaraderie when there is.
Beyond even that, sports, like football, (I am staying with one sport, knowing there are definitely others that can be mentioned!) say to the player and the watcher that the physical is more important than the mind and spirit of that player. When we identify with that scenario, the scenario of only the strong survive, might makes right, outward vs. inward, we play our part in the manipulation of the world paradigm. This paradigm says that the strong in any way (physical, wealth, mental) are entitled to dominate, and manipulate to get what they desire. In fact, the thought, in some religions is just that… they are chosen by God to have that entitlement.
This paradigm manipulates us into living externally…the right clothes, all you can eat to the detriment of your body, bigger, better, shinier, this vodka will get you the guy/girl, this beer is macho, this car…don’t stop to feel, think. If you did, you might not really see yourself in your own life any more.
I can no longer watch games of dominance with a passive eye. There is room for individualism even in the win-win model. A person can “win” by simply knowing that on this day their skill worked to give them their desired result. Others can know they did not lose, they merely had the opportunity to enjoy, use, and know their bodies, and the result of scoring the most points was not met. No shame, no dominations, but still knowing who you are as an individual even in the physical arena.
Surely humanity can accept and develop games and challenges that do not require mimicking war. Surely we can know ourselves as strong and capable without requiring certain physical jeopardy to do so. Surely we, as the observers, can do so without the desire to see blood and defeat…and surely we observers can extend an embrace rather than a thumbs down to those who did not meet their desired result.
The new Gladiator knows that he/she is valued for all they are. Valued for the perfection of body, valued for the openness of their hearts, and valued for their Spirit which knows only Love, and never even thinks about a thumbs down. Even when the game ends. Especially when the game ends.
(Therese Wilson is a published poet, and is the administrator of, and Spiritual Helper at, the global website at www.cwghelpingoutreach.com She may be contacted at: Therese@TheGlobalConversation.com.)
I wonder if any of us are truly aware of how often we moralize and judge not only ourselves but others during the course of a normal day. I am currently taking a free class online on moralities of everyday existence that is offered by Yale (yes, the Ivy League school– but you get no credits or grades for the class.) The first week of class reminded me just how careful we have to be to avoid moralizing and judging the events in our daily lives.
Let me give you an example from my daily life. I am a paramedic. Invariably, at some point during the course of any given day, a call comes in to respond to such and such an address for a patient with flu-like symptoms. A groan often accompanies this summons and it’s exacerbated when you get to the residence and find five apparently capable drivers and three cars parked in the driveway. “This,” we think to ourselves while in the patient’s presence and say aloud when the call is over, “is why our health care costs are so out of control! Anyone of those people could have taken that person to the hospital!”
What we DON’T know is that one of the driver’s has a suspended license for a DUI, one has no car insurance because she can’t afford it, one has three kids sleeping upstairs that are going to be getting up from their nap soon and two of them are also sick and don’t want anyone by mommy/daddy, one just took some cold medicine that makes her drowsy and the fifth’s car isn’t inspected or registered because he couldn’t afford to do it last month when it expired. (As an aside, I recently suffered from a bout with the flu and I have never been as sick as I was for that nine days and there were times when I wanted to call an ambulance to come take me to the hospital.)
How many times have you been standing in line and watched someone pay for steaks with food stamps and thought “How fair is that? I’m eating hamburger helper and you’re eating steaks on food stamps!” Of course, what we don’t know is that the steaks are for the man’s son, who has terminal cancer and this is to be the last meal they have as a family before he goes out of state for experimental treatments that still only give him a 2% chance of survival.
Or here’s one I hear often when someone sees a woman with lots of kids that are apparently very close in age. “Keep your legs closed so I don’t have to support another of your brats!” Of course, what we don’t know is that the woman has taken custody of her sisters kids (which were born in between her own kids) because her sister is fighting a drug addiction and is in rehab and the woman doesn’t want the kids to get stuck in the system.
But what about the smaller moral decisions and judgments we make every day? Are you eating meat? Do you know if the animal who sacrificed their life for your food was treated humanely during its existence? Does it matter?
Are you vegetarian or vegan? Are you eating all organic foods that were harvested by people who were paid a fair wage? What happens to all the migrant workers if everyone buys only foods that were harvested for a fair wage?
Did you flip someone off while driving down the road today because you got cut off or someone didn’t use his turn signal? Maybe you didn’t flip him off but called him a nasty name or even thought what a horrible driver he was. Would it change your mind about him if you knew he just found out his wife was taken to the hospital after a serious car accident and wasn’t expected to survive?
In the area I live in, we have had 22 people die of heroin overdoses in the last two weeks because the heroin is laced with fentanyl. I’ve seen stories about it posted on Facebook and local news websites. Comments range from “Good! One less addict to worry about!” to “And we’re supposed to care about these people why?”
Do you catch yourself judging how your siblings are raising their children and think that you could do a better job? Do you find yourself looking at the clerk in the store and thinking that he needs to find a better barber? Do you overhear your waitress talking about her wife and leave her a smaller tip because you don’t agree with the “gay lifestyle”? Do you see a stray cat running around your neighborhood and think “Someone else is probably feeding it…”? Do you think that the person who is talking in line behind you, who is obviously the opposite party affiliation than you, is a stupid moron for what he believes? Do you speak up when someone in the break room makes an off-color or racist or sexist or homophobic comment or joke? Do you constantly buy pre-packaged meals so you don’t have to cook despite the amount of plastic and cardboard that goes into making just one of those meals and is going to end up in our rapidly filling landfills? Are you more pleasant with someone you know who shares many of your beliefs than you are with someone who thinks your beliefs are a joke? Did you notice that many of these questions are judgmental and moralizing? Or do you think that only the “other side” (or, in other words, someone else besides you) does that kind of thing?
Perhaps some of the most subconscious moralizing and judging we do is with ourselves. How many times have we said about something we did, “That was stupid!” or “I’m such an idiot!” or “How could I be so naive?” How many times have we judged what we have done as “less than” what it should have been or even as a complete failure? How many times have we said that we “really screwed up” on that one? How many times have we belittled or diminished our contribution to the co-creative process of life? It is a habit we are taught young (“we’re all sinners worthy of death”, “there’s nothing we can do to get into God’s good graces and it’s only his mercy that allows us to live”, “we’re born with original sin on our souls”, etc.) often by religion and it’s a habit that is very difficult to break.
I’d be willing to bet that there are those who are saying “So what? As long as I don’t voice my thoughts or hurt someone else’s feelings with what I’m thinking, no harm done!”
But God and science tell us energy is neither created nor destroyed: it simply changes form! So your thoughts are energy that you’re putting out into the world and that energy, if it’s judgmental or moralizing, is helping to co-create the reality in which all of us live.
It takes being completely aware and in the moment at all times to catch yourself doing the moralizing and judging that the vast majority 0f us do without a second thought. Take the time before you think a thought or speak it aloud to ask “What would Love do?” or, even simpler for some, “Is this how I would want to be treated or thought of?”
Try, for one hour, to pay attention to every thought that comes into your head. See how many of them are truly judgmental or moralizing and figure out what you can replace that thought with. Sometimes a simple “Bless you” is more than enough.
My heart is aching. My heart is aching for men and women all over the world who have ever been asked to kill for their country or their god.
On every medium I chance upon these days, there is some message urging support of our troops. Or support of our veterans. Or telling me of the horrible things veterans endured for my freedom. Or urging me to send money, letters, packages to active duty soldiers.
I watch television (I know, that might just be my first mistake, right?), and I see war, and violence and the glorification of dying for a “cause”. Every time I do, I see painfully accurate portrayals of what I have seen in my life. I see “that look” in the eyes of a man who has had to kill and who must bury what he really felt in order to survive. I see stories similar to when a friend of mine, after being home from Vietnam for a number of years, could not contain his secret within himself any longer…he had to unburden having videoed himself, as a gunner on a helicopter, shooting the “enemy”. I see television shows and movies putting on little “morality” plays over and over, laying out before us the real damage done by asking a person to harm another…most recently in the show “Homeland”, where a main character is actually relieved to be released from the torture in his mind from the things his country asked him to commit, and this relief shows on his face as he is hung in a public square. They show us these things over and over, but all that seems to stick is that it is good to die for your country, or your cause…the personal results are yours, as an individual, to deal with.
Then I look around and I see the literally wounded in my community. I see the statistics of the number of soldiers of recent conflicts suffering from a myriad of mental and physical diseases. I see stories of ex military snapping. I see the statistics of homeless veterans. I hear from a man who recruits for the Houston Police Department that they rarely recruit military any more because they are too damaged and too violent. I witnessed, as a juror in traffic court, a young man so traumatized by his tours in Afghanistan that even watching the video of being ticketed by a police officer caused him to tremble and fight back his tears…and this while on antidepressant and anti anxiety medication!
Fast forward from other times, from past conflicts, and I see aging veterans with military bumper stickers identifying the branch of the military they served in, and wearing baseball hats emblazoned with the war they served in whilst in military service. They join lodges, they have reunions of those with similar experiences…and, of course, they have to do this, because how else can they “speak” of the things that torture them, except by not having to speak at all, because all surrounding them know exactly what they know. It is also who they identify themselves as being, as powerfully as they identify themselves as being father, husband, son or daughter.
The United States (indeed, the world!) has done a good job of indoctrination. They have created a “brotherhood” (and now sisterhood), that lasts a lifetime. This brotherhood, in our current world, with relationships of all kind being ripped asunder…parents from children, husband from wife, teachers not trusted any longer…having one thing, one brotherhood, they can count on, is immensely appealing. I get that. The military teaches so many things, like discipline, selflessness, loyalty, patriotism, duty,…and that most illusive of all things, how to keep your room clean! I get that it seems to be necessary these days, but why? How is it that this mystique has been built up so successfully around killing and death? How has it become honorable to kill and die for your country?
What have we done?! What have we done to the young that one of the main bonding arenas in this world is found in institutions that promote these things? Why are we willing to sacrifice our young for patriotism? or money? or land? or God?
Further, why would I even consider asking someone to die for my freedom to be against killing…if I am not willing to stand, unarmed, passively, and die for what I believe. In other words, how can I ask someone to defend what I believe, by doing that in which I do not believe?
Because we believe it is what God does. Because we believe it is what God asks of us. “Onward Christian Soldiers” and jihad, might makes right, and all of the similar things that have been placed into our consciousness from the time we were little.
These soldiers are not monsters! They do what they do because they sincerely and completely believe they are doing the honorable thing. In fact, they ARE honorable…but are they being honorably informed and motivated? I do not believe so.
I think that we can certainly find evidence of new forms of information available to us, guiding us to our inner knowing of killing one another for “honor” of any kind is not our true nature, but we all tend to gravitate to what we know…after we have been told what we believe. Which means, to me, that we must inform the informers that their information is, as CWG says, incomplete.
Support and love the veteran now that he/she has given their gift to you…but give them a gift in return. Go to your places of worship and question out loud how a merciful, all loving, God would ever ask anyone to die for It. Ask yourself, consciously, how harming your child in any way, could ever be what God would ask of you, or direct you to do. Go to your schools and question the history books. Become involved in Spiritual Politics, requiring your elected representatives to have a broad understanding of Oneness. Suggest to elected officials that soldiers can be of “service” in many more ways than those requiring killing…natural disaster relief comes to mind.
Why? How is this your gift for their service? It is your gift, because you will refuse to ask their children to die.
I read an article recently about a pilot who, many years after his plane was shot down, met the man who shot him down. He ends the story of this reunion with this:
“There’s so much misunderstanding in the world resulting in unnecessary sorrow. Having…—a positive, joyful family—in my life has altered my perspective. It may sound trite, but if only there were a way for all the religious, cultural, and ethnic groups of the world to meet and get to know one another in a meaningful way—the way (he) and I have—how could we ever go to war again?”
Good question…how could we? Why do we? When will we give men and women something better to identify with for a lifetime?
I have a daily practice of saying affirmations. I publish a new affirmation on my Facebook account every day (ok, on most days….). Affirmations are a way in which we can “reprogram” our subconscious mind, replacing thoughts that no longer support our highest goals.
I hear so many people say something to the effect of, “Simply repeating the same thing over and over to yourself isn’t going to change anything! It can’t be that easy!”
And yet these are the same people who are wearing “Duck Dynasty” hats, “Keep Calm and (fill in the blank)” T-shirts and who hum the latest jingle to their favorite fast food restaurant as they wait in the drive through to order.
The Bible says “In the beginning was the Word.” Words are what creates. We first have a thought, which is nothing more than “silent words”, and those words are energy that is put out into the universe and when enough energy surrounding those words accumulates, those words take physical form.
You’re frustrated at work yet you say nothing. Every day, your frustration level increases. Soon you begin to notice that you’re having stomach problems or your blood pressure is rising. These are physical manifestations of your thoughts of frustration.
You think of a new idea for a more efficient way of doing something at work. You spend time putting together a presentation for your boss. She loves the idea and your original thoughts are now a new company policy and you have a nice bonus check to bank.
You want to try skydiving, but you keep thinking “What if the chute doesn’t open?” or “What if I land in a tree?” and soon those thoughts create a real fear and you don’t ever go skydiving.
There is an undeniable trend in society today: we are becoming more and more violent. We see this violence manifested in our lives every day: mass shootings— some by children, suicide bombings, car bombings, people murdered over the clothes they’re wearing, road rage….
Some say that art imitates life, but I’m of the belief that it goes both ways: life also mirrors art. The movies we go to see, the video games we play, the television shows we TIVO so we don’t miss a single episode, the books we read, the music we listen to— all have become so much more violent.
The lyrics of some major artists like Eminem (among many others!) glorify the beating, degradation and even rape of women.
Television shows, especially “reality TV” shows like Survivor and Big Brother, glorify lying, cheating, backstabbing and deception in order to win lots of money. “True life” shows like “Wives with Knives” and “Deadly Affairs” (among many, many others) make murder and violence a big money venture. Other reality shows, like “American Idol” and “The Bachelor” take special pains to show some of the participants in their worst possible light, some even making entire episodes that are devoted to making fun of someone for following their dream.
Video games, wherein a player gets to rape a prostitute or steal cars or shoot gays or burn down buildings, are being played by children who are far too young to understand the difference between fantasy and reality. The traditional joystick has been replaced by guns or steering wheels or “wands” that recognize the realistic movements one must make to accomplish what their character onscreen is doing, thus blurring even further for some the difference between reality and fantasy.
Of course, the makers/publishers/producers/directors/writers of these violent media products deny that these have any influence on the level of violence in society. They say that they’re only giving the people what they want. Then they turn around and spend $4 million dollars on a 30 second commercial to play during the Superbowl because they understand the power of advertising and the power of words to influence what you buy and what you think.
And that is the paradox with the power of words. Until you recognize that words only have the power that you give them, words have an enormous power over what you think, what you feel, what you believe and what you do. The more you understand that the power of words is in your control, the less power words have over you.
We have been inundated with words from birth. These words, because we do not yet understand that words have no power over us, affect what we think, feel, believe and do. And we hear them repeatedly, time after time after time. The average person in today’s western society sees more than 240 images every day that are specifically aimed at advertising. That’s not including the ones our brain does not register. We’re hearing these messages over and over and whether we want to admit it or not, if we’re not doing something to consciously prevent it, those messages are becoming part of our subconscious thinking and directly influences our behavior and our thinking patterns. (There’s a reason subliminal advertising is illegal!)
And so we come back full circle to the use of affirmations. Affirmations combat those messages from advertisers that say we can’t be happy unless we buy their product or we won’t be pretty unless we use this make up or we won’t find our true love unless we use this perfume or we’ll lose our partner to another if we don’t know how to perform this particular act.
Affirmations are taking conscious control of our subconscious. We are reprogramming the subconscious and building a wall of protection around it that limit the influence that media input of all sorts has on what the subconscious believes. In doing so, we are creating our own reality in which our happiness doesn’t depend on anyone or anything but ourselves. In which Love is not measured in how many times we have sex or how big the ring is on our finger. In which success is not determined by how big the house we live in or the label of the clothes we wear or the kind of car in our garage. In which beauty is not determined by weight, the appearance of age, the color of our hair or whether we have “flawless” skin. In which the world of peace and harmony and brotherly love that we all profess we want to live in becomes reality.
Ahhh…good old, poor old, Justin Bieber. He has landed himself smack dab in the middle of the convergence of several double standards, hasn’t he?
Here’s my take…
On the one hand we raised him up, from the time he was little, and told him just how special he was. We told him that because he was so special, and did such a good job of entertaining us that he could do virtually anything he desired…and we were going to give him the money to do so!
Ooops! Then we told him that, despite the fact that there were surely people who knew exactly the behavior he was getting caught up in, it is not okay to do this thing. We love you, but there are invisible rules to the game that he should have just known don’t get covered and ignored because of his status as special!
At the same time he got special status, because he is so special, and got allowed, as a Canadian National, into the United States to work and live, so that now he gets to be the target/example/representative of what is wrong with American immigration and deportation policies.
Let’s not forget that because he is so special, and because he makes so much money and entertains us so well, it is entirely possible he will be treated in a manner very different than any other 19 year old citizen, but without money, in this country…and this is before throwing in that lovely wild card of skin color.
Wow! wouldn’t we all like to be so special?
Our relationship with celebrity (or anyone who we perceive as “successful”) reminds me of our relationship with God. In these cases WE are God…and we act as we have had demonstrated to us God acts.
So just what has been demonstrated of God’s love and approval to us?
First we are told how loved and lovable we are.
Then we act as if we are as we were told, lovable and perfect in the Creators eyes, and we experiment with Life to figure out who we are.
But then we cross that invisible line that says, whoa! you’re special, but not THAT special! Better watch out or there could be some pretty dramatic results in the end…eternal results!
So, we give being special another go, but we keep an eye out for where that invisible line is, because we now know it is there…and, even though we don’t know it is what we are feeling, we are feeling just a little bit less special every time we stumble upon that line with God, and risk damnation with our next move.
This is the little play we act out with people like Justin Bieber, or any of the others in the news lately. We love to play God, and have the opportunity, finally, to be the one condemning rather than being the condemned.
Here’s a twist, however…I have no problem with anyone “playing God”! The problem I have is with how the part of God gets played by we Humans most of the time! Yes, I capitalized “Human” in the same sentence as “God”. I happen to believe we are individuations of the Divine, which gives us the opportunity to actually use our Humanity in a Divine manner. We are not doing so.
All of that aside, in my view, all that we consider “entertaining” is actually nothing more than “diverting”. Turning our attention away from something to something else. We hand our power to something other than ourselves.
I think it is obvious what our attention is turned to, but from what? At its core, quite simply, away from ourselves…away from our own thoughts, and our own Love. We place it all outside of ourselves, and we reach out to find what will fill us, instead of looking in, with gratitude, at the great gift of this human experience that has been provided by Divinity.
The outside is great! If we view it all through the eyes of our Divine connection. So let’s go one more step…let’s look at Justin Bieber as part of that Divine connection, and even while we notice what isn’t working in his life, love all that he is…because we did co-create the circumstances that resulted in this moment, didn’t we?
It’s not a new phenomenon. It’s probably been going on since the beginning of time. People have used religion to justify their discrimination for time out of mind. Even the Bible seems to support it: the last plague God visited on the Egyptians (according to the Bible but not according to God 😉 ) was the killing of every firstborn child or animal who resided in a home that was not marked with blood on the the doorpost.
The very reason that the Puritans came to the “New World” was to avoid the persecution they were suffering because of their faith. (Of course, once they got here, they turned around and revisited that prosecution on other faiths, but that’s another story….)
So pervasive was discrimination based on faith that the founding fathers of the newly formed United States of America wrote an amendment to the US Constitution that expressly forbids the government from creating laws that are based on faith. This wall of separation between church and state is hotly contested by religious fundamentalists, but it is clear that it was intended to exist and to prevent religious persecution.
It has not always been successful.
- In many states, beer stores cannot remain open on Sunday because of the Christian faith.
- Until relatively recently, school prayer was allowed to be led by school officials.
- We still have “In God We Trust” on our money (how ironic!) and the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance (in direct opposition to the desire of the Pledge’s author, Francis Bellamy, a socialist pastor who was so disgusted with the infighting and discrimination of the Christian faiths that he intentionally left any mention of God out of the Pledge)
- The only faith to have a holy day as a national holiday (two holy days, actually) is Christianity.
- Laws banning abortion are based on religious beliefs.
- Laws banning gay marriage are based on religious beliefs.
But the separation of church and state is an ideal to strive for that will, when we finally reach it, insure that everyone is free to follow their conscience.
The religious fundamentalist movement has seen the writing on the wall: the courts are overturning laws based on religion and are allowing to stand those that protect freedom of religion. So those in the fundamentalist movement have started using a new tactic: conscientious objector, but with a twist.
The basic scenario goes like this: new laws are passed that give everyone equal rights, triggering fundamentlists to declare they are no obliged to follow the new laws because of their faith. The twist is, that in NOT following the law, they are not only following their faith but forcing thousands if not millions of others to also follow their faith.
Let me give you a few examples.
- Hazelmary and Peter Bull ran the Chymorvah Hotel, Marazion, Cornwall, England. Their Christian faith dictated that only married couples be allowed to rent their rooms. But in 2007, the British Parliament passed the Equalities Act, which prohibited discrimination based on orientation. At the time, it was illegal for gays to marry in England, but they could obtain a civil union, which was supposed to be the “legal equivalent” of a marriage. But this couple refused to acknowledge their civil union as the valid equivalent of a marriage and refused to rent a room to a gay couple.
- Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado, refused to provide a wedding cake to a gay couple, stating he had nothing against gays, but gay marriage violated his religious beliefs.
- Baronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers, refused to provide the floral arrangements for a gay wedding because of her religious beliefs.
- Recently, the state of Utah began issuing gay marriage licenses after a federal judge overturned the law banning gay marriage. Yet there are still some clerks who refuse to issue the licenses based on their personal religious beliefs.
- Similarly, the Catholic Church is behind a push for a “religious exclusion” to the required coverage of birth control under the Affordable Care Act. They claim that being forced to provide birth control to the employees of Catholic business owners violates their religious liberty.
- There are pharmacists who refuse to dispense legal prescriptions for the “morning after pill”, stating religious objection to abortion as their reason. Now that the morning after pill can be obtained without a prescription, there are still pharmacists who refuse to dispense it based on their personal religious views.
These are just the tip of the iceberg. (Google “refused services for gay wedding” and you get more than 4 million hits alone!) These are the ones that make the news. But this goes on daily on a smaller scale all across the United States.
Where do the religious exemptions end? Can a Muslim employer request that he not have to provide health care coverage for someone who gets food poisoning from eating pork? Can a Quaker employer ask for an exemption for someone who seeks health care from injuries suffered in a war? Can an Amish employer request a religious exemption for any injury obtained by the use of “modern equipment”?
Yes, individuals have the right to live their life according to their religious beliefs. But they do NOT have the right to force even one other person to live according to their religious beliefs. An employer who denies employees coverage for birth control because his religion believes it is wrong is forcing his employees to abide by his religions dictates as well. That is why, time after time, these cases of “religious liberty” are being thrown out of court.
Such cases used to anger me and I’d jump on the bandwagon condemning the business owners. But now, knowing that all change is for the better and understanding that everything happens in the perfect time-space sequence, I now see that these cases are pushing the cause of social change along faster than any demonstration by pro-change forces could ever hope to have achieved.
These “conscientious objectors” have forced the courts to be very clear about any “loopholes” that some might try to use to avoid following the law. They also bring to light the utter lack of logic in the reasoning that is used by those in fundamentalist organizations as well as they hypocrisy and fear-mongering in which they engage. It brings otherwise “taboo” topics to the forefront for discussion and for open communication. They expose individuals to topics they might otherwise never be exposed to and force them to think about it and to consider where they stand on the issues.
Given that we are all One, that we are all created by Love, from Love and with Love and that Love is the very essence of our being, many (most?) people are coming down on “the right side of history”. Not only in the the push for equality for all human beings but in other areas that concern all creation as well, such as the stewardship of the planet earth, access to clean water, access to decent housing and access to life-saving medication. The groups that have always supported these causes are obtaining new allies at a rate heretofore unheard of.
All because of a bunch of people who want to claim a first amendment right to discriminate.