Monday, September 03, 2012

Turn the other cheek...in winding up for a hard punch.

Before we begin for today: Inasmuch as people have been asking lately, we'll get back to Byron Katie next time. 

People have also been talking to me lately about something besides Byron Katie: They've been talking about forbearance and "leaving it in God's hands." This tends to come up particularly with respect to my dealings with my former employer. One of my erstwhile colleagues even directed me for guidance to Psalm 37, which urges earthly restraint while reinforcing the supposedly comforting notion that God will mete out any punishments that need meting out. In essence, says the Psalm, don't worry if the unjust prosper while the righteous get screwed. It's all in The Plan.

I see a few issues here:

1. There may not be a God. We can't be sure of it. Yeah, I know, many of my acquaintancesnotably the dude who sent me the Psalmsay they're "sure" there's a God, but that's an emotional conviction and not at all the same as really being sure of it in some objective sense. I grant you that I myself have stated on several occasions that I instinctively believe in a higher being, and I truly hope for an afterlife, especially these days, since the untimely passing of my sister. Nor can I deny that I find it hard to believe that All This is just some grand cosmic accident, a random coming-together of stuff that (bosons notwithstanding) never existed before and happened to interact in just that certain way to produce baseball and Charlize Theron (or for my generation, Natalie Wood). This is obviously key because if there is no God, no divine justice/retribution, then all those miscreants and misanthropes will merely die and rot away like the rest of us without ever having known a comeuppance. (And I don't mean to set myself up as the arbiter of just causes: Perhaps this very minute someone is saying that about me, wishing for my comeuppance.)

2. Some people need to be stoppedin which case it's less a question of vengeance than of preventing additional innocents from being victimized. I can't quote Scripture, but I do recall being read passages about that same God, the one of Psalm 37 vintage, reaching down and smiting, wreaking His almighty wrath on this or that person or society (Soddom/Gomorrah, the Great Flood). As I see it, if you know that evil is afoot, then you have a civic duty, a human duty, to get in evil's way. If my psalm-minded friend saw some 11-year-old being dragged into the bushes by a predator, would he simply sigh hard, go home and pray on it? I think not. I certainly hope not.

This is also why I get impatient with the likes of the eponymous Doreen Virtue, Dr. Susan Shumsky, Deepak, our friend Marianne Williamson and a  host of others in the New Age who are incessantly tweeting about peace, emotional self-sufficiency, freedom from anxiety, and so on. They argue for a euphoric detachment from the external world and its grief. (For that matter, so does Byron "where would you be without your story?" Katie.) I give you examples from the past few days:

"You deserve the fulfillment of your cherished desires. You deserve to be happy and to be at peace. God loves you." Dr. Susan.

 "Know that every kind word spoken today is a gift to both the speaker and the listener." Ms. Virtue. (So is there no time or place for unkind words?)

and/or, 

"It is in the peaceful, heartful state of surrender that you can have what you want." Debbie Ford.
I could go on and on and on.

Do we want to feel peace of mind, a sense of surrender, when all about us, injustice is rampant? I'm not sure we even deserve to feel it. To be clear, again, I'm not proposing to tell anyone what he or she is supposed to consider injustice. My injustice may be your justice (as seems to happen often when the discussion turns to crime and punishment; I end up on the unpopular side of the fence). But don't you feel passionate enough about something to take action? Something beyond your own wants, needs and complacent peace of mind?

Find a cause you're willing to die for. Then you can say you have lived.

2 comments:

LizaJane said...

Sorry to hear about your sister (link is broken, fyi), Steve.

Clicked on the others links, and threw up a little from this one:

... Dr. Susan Shumsky ‏@SusanShumsky
Forgive yourself, for you did the very best you could do in every situation. Let go of all guilt and blame. ...

How does SHE know if I did the very best I could? Does any of us EVER do the very best we can? And if so, what's the point of continuing? We've done our best. Game over.

This, to me, is the grown-up result -- the culmination -- of the false self-esteem our society is instilling in our kids. That pseudo sense of self-worth that comes from "accepting yourself as you are," with absolutely nothing else required. You don't even have to think. Just "be."

You don't have to DO anything, Accomplish anything, Create anything, Help anyone, or Care about anything (beyond your own satisfaction and comfort). Just 'be true to yourself' and you are perfect.

Really? I mean, I, for one, think I could Do more, Be better, Give more, Try harder, etc. I'm a pretty nice person, with some minor accomplishments under my belt. But NO, I do not always "do my very best."

Green Eyes said...

Hi Steve; I agree with you whole heartedly. Sometimes turning the other cheek can be the worse thing to do. But who do you vent your vengence on. Perhaps it is true that Vengence is mine sayeth the Lord. In that case I wish he she or it, would pull its finger out and start getting vengefull.

On another bent I found a really good book called the Hero Within, by Carol Pearson, It's a little dated and maybe Passe, but nonetheless puts things into perspective, at least as far as my Journey is concerned. The critical point is that we reach a stage where we hand over responsibility to the Cosmic, and trust that they do the right thing and smite the evil doers. However it doesn't end there because once you grow out of the Innocent archetype you end up in the Magicians cloths, where you actually have some say in the out come. I know its a little nebulous, but persevere it will all become clear in the long run.

Cheers Pasquale

Oh BTW, I to havve my doubts, but that doesn't stop me wanting to believe that there is a higher better world worth fighting for, worth dying for.