Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Let's Start With Coffee

Here are some lessons I've begun to learn. I hope that I'm really learning them, and not simply spouting them off. In any case, they are reflections from my life. Often I do the opposite of what it says here, but I hope that years of failure are teaching me something.

Love the person. Find what is good in the person and encourage it, foster it, strengthen it, help them build on it.

There is something in every person that is worthy of affirmation. Affirm the good.

Listen to people. Even when they're wrong.

And don't do it just to be "polite". Try to understand what they are seeking, what "good" they are trying to protect, and what they fear. I know from my own experience that when I think or do something wrong, its usually because I am trying to avoid suffering. I also know that it never really works.

Compassion. I must be willing to join that person in their suffering. This is the place where they need love.

Not condescension.

Not false approval.

Love. Humble love.

I should bend down and let them step on my back so that they might see what's on the other side of their wall.

And then there are things we have in common.

I don't think I've ever met a person with whom I had nothing in common. Find that common thing, however small it may be. Let solidarity with the person begin there.

It may seem small indeed. The disagreements among people in the world today are prominent. We rub shoulders every day with people who have completely different ideas about the universe and the meaning of life. Perhaps the only thing we have in common is a need for coffee in the morning.

Very well, let's start with coffee. In this detail of life, a person is present to me. Here is a place where I can give myself to another person and they can give themselves to me.

If I take the risk, they might respond.

I might even go so far as to have tea, if that's what they prefer.

Do good.

Avoid evil.

We cannot create common bonds by betraying the truth. Not only is is wrong; it makes no sense. If a person refuses to accept reality, I can't falsify reality in order to be united with them. We can only build on a foundation of reality.

"Oh, so you cut people's throats. How interesting! What kind of knife do you like best?"

No, that's going nowhere. That's not helping anybody.

We cannot pretend that there is no evil in the world. There is great evil in the world. And people attach themselves to it. Love tries to find ways to help them break free.

Here especially I must remember to love myself. There's plenty of evil looking at me in the mirror. I need to do some breaking free, but how? Love, love? I don't even know how to love myself! That means I have to let myself be loved. Why is this so strangely difficult?

Sometimes it is necessary to fight. We need the grace to make the difficult judgment of when that time has come, as well as where and how it needs to be done.

Then, we must fight hard and fight fair.

Fight evil. Don't fight against the person. Fight for the person, and against the evil that they are using to destroy themselves and others. And don't fight for the advancement of self. Don't fight for vengeance.

This is not easy. The temptation is always there, to prove myself by vanquishing the other person. The temptation is especially strong when I know I'm right.

War. I fight wars every day, especially with the people who are close to me. These wars are often unjust, almost always ill considered, and usually indiscriminate. If I really want peace in the world, I should start with my own house.

The greatest weapon of mass destruction is right between my teeth.

But the very same can be used to build peace, and to communicate the truth in love.

The tongue: use wisely. Often, silence is the better thing. Only use the tongue with the help of God.

Really, what I need to do is just forgive people. But I can't do this unless I encounter a great, healing mercy in my own life.

I need mercy, present in my life right now. We all do.