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 acquaintances—notably the dude who sent me the Psalm—say 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 stopped—in 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.I could go on and on and on.
"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?)
"It is in the peaceful, heartful state of surrender that you can have what you want." —Debbie Ford.
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.