Saturday, April 27, 2013
How can I possibly equate my anger with that of the terrorists?
I received quite a lot of comments on last week’s post (Msg-3-April- 2013, Why Do I Love To Hate Haters?) – understanding that my “hate” for the hateful acts of the Boston terrorists made me no different than they. I really thank all those who wrote me to describe how they coped or how they felt.
The underlying meaning from all these comments seemed to ask the question: “Don, how can you possibly equate your anger (or your self) with that of the terrorists? “
All I can see with my own physical ego-eyes is my own reflection. The meaning of what I “see” is determined by my mindset or inner beliefs. No matter what my eyes see, my feelings are determined by what my mind decides is real. According to ACIM, “…the mind is so powerful that it is the cause of everything it feels. Our feelings are produced by our internal beliefs, not be external circumstances.” [Robert Perry, Path of Light, Circle Publishing, 2004, p. 58]
We cannot truly perceive all by ourselves. “Right now we live in a state of perception, in which we try to know a reality that is frustratingly outside ourselves. We can only see this reality through the plate-glass window of our physical senses and mental interpretations – a window that is anything but clear. In the end this window functions more like a mirror. Rather than seeing reality, we end up seeing the reflection of our own state of mind…. We are not going to bring [perception] to the surface by ourselves, however. We need help in order to see truly. The reason goes back to the mirror-like nature of perception. It is as if we are trapped in a bubble with a reflective interior surface. Everywhere we turn all we see is the reflection of our own state of mind. We think we are looking on reality, yet instead we are merely seeing our own belief system in picture form.” [Ibid. pp. 92; 95]
We’ve all had experiences where what we see is determined by what mood we’re in and, therefore, what it is we’re looking for or “seeing.” Two people can be standing side-by-side in a parking lot after shopping in a large store. One can be in a wonderful mood, seeing the “joy of shopping” all around. The other can be in bad mood for whatever reason. The joyous person will see happy people walking back to their cars, laughing, excited, and extending helping hands to strangers trying to negotiate packages into back seats. The frustrated person will focus on the people vying for a parking spot, angry with a slow “backer-outer,” all the money spent on “junk” made (presumably) in China, racing to leave, cutting each other off at the exit.
Our insides determine what it is we see. If I don’t like what I’m looking at, I take a peek inside me. With the events in Boston it took me several days for the whisper of the Holy Spirit to get through to me: “Don, you’re doing the same thing. Thinking the same thoughts. Remember what you learned in AA? Sick thoughts are just as destructive as sick actions.”
Please understand, I’m not absolving these two young men for what they did. I’m not trying to gloss over the horrible nature of their actions. I am trying to communicate that hatred is hatred. Fear is fear. Anger is anger. Being mean-spirited is being mean-spirited.
True, most of us would not physically pack a pressure cooker with nails and BBs to try to maim strangers. However, most of us, I believe, would let these strong negative feelings fester. We would then externalize them – blaming others for our having these feelings. We would lash out at a clerk. We would snap at our children. We would be exceptionally critical of our spouse or significant other. We would continue to see the awful, “evil,” greedy pettiness in people all around us. In short, we would explode small emotive bullets wherever we went. No bleeding bodies, true, but leaving clumps of emotional carnage behind, nevertheless.
I don’t see much difference between the two. Neither does A Course in Miracles (ACIM).
If you’ve learned to be afraid of people with different colored skins or who wear different kinds of clothes or who eat different kinds of food – then all people of color or different dress will be interpreted by you as being dangerous. We have learned to be wary, be diffident, be cautious, be untrusting. It’s prejudice. It’s bigotry. It’s fear.
Someone else might see people of color and people who dress differently as interesting: with different customs, different habits, different cuisines, different music and arts – and all of that may excite them and stimulate their curiosity. That, in turn, will drive them to want to see, taste, experience more of these “differences.”
In either case – our perceptions are interpreted by our inner mindset, our inner beliefs.
My favorite quote from Earnie Larsen, which I’ve mentioned in other posts, is very apt here: “What you live with you learn. What you learn you practice. What you practice you become. What you become has consequences.” [Earnie Larsen, Stage II Recovery, Harper & Row Publishers, 1985, p. 30]
The consequences of the two young men in Boston were exploding homemade bombs. My consequence was a hateful attitude. Both sets of consequences were distinctly unloving, unkind, and very destructive. I'm still a work in progress.
Although these messages are mostly for me, thanks for listening. As always – feel free to forward this message to your friends, family, and those accompanying you on your spiritual journey.
#4 April, 2013