Tuesday, September 13, 2005

And in defining who we are...

we create judgements based on what we accept and reject.

I mean, think about it. I identify myself as a lefty-liberal bleeding heart, and place a judgement on those people who don't share my views. I ACCEPT the idea that homosexuals should be allowed to marry just like everyone else. I REJECT people who believe otherwise. I ACCEPT the idea that we have a pure-D, sociopathic dry drunk sitting in the White House, and I REJECT the idea that other people could actually LIKE this president and think he is doing a good job. (Note to my Bush-loving friends -- are you happy now?) Those are just two examples. The judgement that I attach to rejecting those people comes from the idea that I (and people who think like me) must surely be right, and they must just as surely be wrong, or worse, stupid.

It's amazing how we call other people judgemental -- the fundamentalist Christians, et. al., and yet don't recognize judgement and fundamentalism in ourselves. And just when we start to lift the corner of that scab and might have to face that ugly reality, we swing immediately from our judgement of others into the justification for ourselves. "Well, of course I am judgemental about those other people who like George Bush -- they are clearly WRONG." Placing myself in the other guy's shoes, I can see that they are probably thinking the same thing about me.

There are groups whom I don't support because they are clearly fundamental in nature -- there is only one right way for them, and no seeing the other side or even the greater good.

For instance -- I'm a cyclist, right? I love to ride my bike. I believe that the city of New York doesn't do enough to promote a car-free city, or enough to be considered even remotely bicycle-friendly, when clearly (to me at least), reducing the number of cars in New York city would be to the greater good, right? Fewer cars means less fuel consumption, less pollution, less traffic congestion. All good things, right? But given all of those beliefs, I cannot and will not support a monthly event known as Critical Mass. I watch those bicyclists on the last Friday of every month, and I see them running red lights (illegal), riding on sidewalks (illegal), blocking traffic (illegal), and I can't see where they are benefiting anyone except a few anarchic folks who want to create as much two-wheeled mayhem as possible. And in the bargain, they are pissing off a lot of people in cars AND the police. How do they expect to promote bicycles as a viable form of alternative transportation if they've pissed off a whole lot of people who will then go on to run cyclists off the road, cut them off, door them deliberately?

If Critical Mass really wanted to be effective and demonstrate how a car-free New York could work for the greater good, they would organize their rides so that the riders followed the rules of the road. Ride single file, stop at red lights, signal their turns, don't ride against traffic, and stay off the sidewalks, etc. It would have a more positive effect on drivers to see a large group of riders who are willing to share the road, and do so in an orderly fashion. But jeez, cyclists and motorists in New York are like the Arabs and the Jews -- no one will give an inch, the other side is wrong, and unfortunately it ends up that someone gets hurt. (And in a fight with a 3,000 lb car, the cyclist will lose every time).

We get in that cycle and it just continues -- it is possible to stay on the wheel of judgement and justification forever, I imagine. Samsara.

We did an exercise at a Cheri Huber workshop once on this very topic. It was about achieving peace. We drew a circle and inside we wrote the things we find acceptable (love, world peace, blah, blah, blah). And outside we wrote the things we find unacceptable (war, hatred, anger, fighting). The ultimate goal of the exercise was that once we know what we find unacceptable, the possibility of peace exists not in resisting the unacceptable things, but in WIDENING the circle of acceptance.

This is not to say that we become resigned to the fact that there is war, hatred, anger and fighting in the world -- but we accept that they exist. Acceptance = seeing what is. Not with head down, but with head up. And this is also not to say that we do nothing about those things, but that with acceptance we are then able to make changes.

On a totally different subject (or maybe not), I'm reading a book right now called "Working With Anger," by Thubten Chodron. She is an American Buddhist nun. I picked it up after telling Fxxxxthat I hate him and spending Friday and Saturday feeling karmically destroyed by the action. Me telling him has had absolutely no effect on him whatsoever -- but the effect on me was devastating. I thought to myself that I had better get back to work -- so sitting quietly with my thoughts and just noticing what came up was imperative. I realize that what comes up for me when I am angry is mostly a feeling of having no voice -- and that goes all the way back to my earliest "training" (and make no mistake, as children we are TRAINED) -- as the youngest girl in a large family, I was "trained" that good little girls don't speak up for themselves or fight back. I was (and still am, to a large extent) a patter-downer rather than a stirrer-upper. And that little girl was frustrated and grief-stricken at not being heard (nor being treated with basic good manners) and she lashed out with the worst thing she could think of to say to someone. (I went back through my memories -- outside of being a child and acting petulantly and saying "I hate you" -- I've never actually said it to someone as an adult.) It is a POWERFUL and INTOXICATING emotion/action combination, and not in a good way.

Good book, more will be revealed.


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