I have been thinking a lot about the divisiveness and constant level of outrage and judgment we experience every day. I thought I would take this space and clear some ideas that have been percolating in my head. To be clear I am not asking anything other than, possibly, maybe I/we will stop and think before jumping to conclusions and give things time and space to become clear. I will at least create the conditions for more peace and serenity in my life.
To begin, I think it is wise to claim my/our social context before ever engaging the external world. Many of our reactions and thoughts are not of our conscious creation but rather a reflection of our families, social upbringing, and cultural context. In my case I am a white male raised in a small Midwestern college and farming community. I come from a union and working class background. I was raised outside the boundaries of a traditional church and grew up with a love of nature and the environment. I am a child of the 60’s and still hold many of the better values of that era. My personal life is very traditional while my political and social values would now be termed progressive. I have benefited from the privilege of being white, straight, and male in a society that afforded me many opportunities that were closed to others. I am better able to see and experience this privilege now that I am older.
The idea I have been mulling over is the lack of grace or forgiveness we give. I squandered my privilege through the choices I made that led to a life of addiction and alcoholism. During that time I said and did things that I now regret and have done my best to make amends for. In part, my amends is by a willingness to live life in a different manner and be a model for the words and behaviors that I believe lift people up not belittle or tear them down. I certainly am not unique or alone in this. I really believe we all have said and done things we regret. Yet, I witness the judgments and condemnation of others for actions and words they uttered decades ago with little or no recognition of the growth or journey the person has been on. I read a Facebook post that said “if someone did something in the past and are truly trying to change and make amends can we stop holding them to their past.”
I notice myself wanting to jump to conclusions. I want to be angry and judgmental. I have contempt prior to investigation. I am working at stopping first and trying to understand. I give myself permission to take the time to allow Spirit and Grace to move through me guiding and tempering my thoughts and actions. This does not mean we stop striving. This does not mean we give people free passes for what they do and say. This does not mean I give myself a free pass. What it means is I allow people to grow and change. I allow myself an opportunity to grow and change. There is a difference between making mistakes and be given and opportunity to make amends and be forgiven and consciously saying and doing hurtful things. I am not sure, at this point in time, if I/we are able to discern the difference and give those who are trying a break but at least I am trying.