Sunday, August 5, 2012

8/6/12—Seeing Similarities

Today's Draw: Six of Flames from the Margarete Petersen Tarot. Is there a certain kind of person that you really can't abide? Do you feel powerless over the hate in this world? What, if anything, do you feel you have in common with people who commit crimes like the recent one in Wisconsin? 

Based on today's draw and recent news about seven Sikhs being killed in a temple shooting, we're going to do a week on oneness. When I say oneness, I mean the idea that we are all one. There's more to the idea of oneness, but that's what I mean to focus on this week—our connection to everything in the universe. Our similarity to everything in the universe. The idea that no one is different from us. No one is a stranger. 

The book for this deck says two things regarding this concept. First, it says this card is about "the fire of going beyond your limits and expanding your boundaries." We tend to live insulated lives around people "like ourselves". And in doing so, we nurture a "people like us" and "people not like us" mentality. It happens everywhere and it's not something I'm judging. We all do it. There are people we feel comfortable around and people we don't. 

The problem is that when we insulate ourselves too much, we tend to see the differences in people who are not part of our group, rather than the similarities. Oneness is all about seeing the similarities. So this card is asking you to go beyond your limitations and expand your circle large enough to see similarities. This could be about befriending someone of a different culture, volunteering to serve others less fortunate or attending an event you wouldn't normally attend. If there's a particular group you have issues with, really push beyond those boundaries and spend time with them...focusing on the similarities. 

The second thing the book said was "the boundaries of Not-I and I are beginning to dissolve." That's what I'm talking about. And it's not just that other humans—or even other sentient beings—are at one with you. It's everything. When you think about the spiritualities people pretty much universally admire, like Buddhism or that of Native Americans, the common denominator is respect for all things. There is nothing that is not sacred.

It's easy to say, "I'm not the problem here." But I contend you are. We all are. I don't think there's anyone in the eyeshot of my blog that has this principle mastered. Whether it's stupid people, homeless people, drug addicts, murderers, cheaters, Muslims, aboriginals, mean people—whatever—there is some group or "label" you have judgments and unflattering opinions about. Those opinions, magnified ever so slightly become fears. And those fears magnified ever so slightly become hate. Then justification for violence. Then violence. And the catch is, you are more similar to "those people" than different. But because we see the differences rather than the similarities, we support a line of thought that, down society's line, leads to this kind of tragedy.

When it comes to those whose behavior is different than yours, you nonetheless have the same *capacity* to do the things they've done. Think you could never be an addict? There but for the grace of God go you. Think you could never be a criminal? If you had been raised under different circumstances, you very well could be. Think you couldn't be mentally ill? Just one change in your chemical makeup could change all that. The line between "us" and "them" is not only thin, it's fragile. Nobody dreams these things for themselves. The are the result of minor variables that you somehow managed to skate past. You have the same capacity for that behavior as the do. It was the details in their lives that made the difference.

As for people from different cultures and religions...they have the same dreams for their children you do. They have the same love for relatives, the same need to be accepted, the same talents and dreams. When you approach others from the perspective of what's similar rather than what's different, you're walking in the footsteps of Jesus and Buddha....and love. 

Sunday morning, a congregation gathered to worship their god. Seven people were killed. Early reports said, among them, was at least one priest. I believe you have to be mentally ill to do something like that. But I think we also need to see how each of us contributes to these kinds of hate crimes. We contribute by participating in and enabling an "us" and "them" sensibility. We are more like those sihks than we realize. We are more like their killer, too. And until we, as a society, learn to embody that truth, we won't be supporting change. It has to start somewhere. It can start with me and you.

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