Janine's Articles From the Soul From the Outside Poetry Corner Prisoner Letters

Issue 82

Most of us have been raised with quite a list of do’s and don’ts depending on the values held by their care giver.  These values came from culture, religion, ethnicity, families, schools and many other influences.

There’s nothing wrong about any of that, of course.  As a matter of fact, I don’t see how we can live at all without some kind of basic principles we adhere to.  Whether we believe in the survival of the fittest or that the strong should help the weak; whether we think that we must earn everything we need or that we have a right to have all our basic needs met; whether we believe people are basically good or basically bad.  All these beliefs affect how we live our lives.

The problem that I see is that some of the beliefs held by the world contradict each other.  For instance, even in religions who believe in the existence of only one God,  there is a further belief that their way is the only right way to worship:  the clothes they wear, the building they worship in, the exact words said while praying to God, the food that is allowed.  All those differences make most religions state that their way is the better way to God.  This has triggered many wars.  It does even today.  Moreover, these differences occur even within religions and countries.

Governments do the same thing.  One country believes its system is so superior to the way other countries govern that wars are waged.

For instance, how many splits have happened within the faith based on Jesus’ teaching?  In 2012, The World Christian Encyclopedia estimated that there are approximately 43,000 different Christian denominations in the world.

And we don’t have to go beyond the United States to see the very serious and often paralyzing effect of differing politics within our own government.

This is not conducive to World Unity, if that’s what you would like to see.   And I must admit that I yearn for a time when the peoples of the world will relax and accept the wonderful diversity that we can see everywhere.

One of the biggest obstacles to achieving this goal has been stated before and it’s the idea that each group believes their view is not only different but better than the other group’s.  Some groups go so far as to believe their way is the only way to go, the only way to worship, the only way to govern.

This is disturbing enough but I keep remembering my belief that the ‘outside’ world is simply a reflection of our inner world, of who we are as individuals.

I was raised a Catholic.  I remember, even as a little girl, being at Mass and seeing the grown ups, the very ones who kept telling me I had to attend Mass in order to be a good girl and eventually earn my place in Heaven, look at everyone else in Church and gossip about them on their way out.

I remember hearing that Jesus said to turn the other cheek whenever someone slapped me, but I never saw anyone actually do that.

And I see now, our politicians react one way when someone from their party does something suspicious and have a very different reaction when a member of the opposing party does the same thing.

And this is, to me, “where the rubber meets the road” as they say.

I yearn for World Unity.  Not so that everyone believes and acts the same way, but so that we accept and celebrate our differences.

Neale Walsch has thrown a challenge to all the representatives of all the major religions of the world,  “Go to your pulpits and tell your followers that yours is not a better way, yours is simply another way”.

This could be echoed by all the politicians of the world.

Can you even imagine such a thing? It’s hard to see how the leaders of today could ever acknowledge such a thing.

But, as I’ve said before, I believe the outside world simply reflects our inner one.  That brings me to believe that World Unity will never happen unless I stop believing that my inner world is divided, that there is a part of me that is objectively better than any other part.

Is my job during this, and many other lifetimes, to get better and better?  Am I still carrying that Catholic belief that I have to earn my place in Heaven?

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Thinking that things will get better and better sounded good there for a second.  The problem is that “better” always seems to make something else “worse” and nobody wants to be part of what is “worse” in this life.

So what does that all mean to me?  Where does that leave me?

I know my perspective determines what I see, how I feel about everything that happens around me.  And my perspective is completely imbued with the principles I choose to guide my life.

I believe that for me, in my own life, there is such a thing as “better”.  For instance, I  drove to Florida from Oregon during my vacation a few weeks ago.  So I took I-5 South when I left home.  This is not a better road than the Northbound one, it is simply the one that would take me to Florida fastest, which is what I wanted to do.

This is a simple and practical example, based on the fact that I like to get where I’m going without detours, that’s me!  Others could easily have chosen a more circuitous route and, for them, that would have been better.

The same idea applies to other kinds of decisions.  A while back, I chose the qualities that I admire the most, the ones I wish to show in my own behavior.  Honesty and kindness were up there so I could say that to me, being kind and honest is better.  But even in this case, I find that I value kindness much more than honesty so that I will always steer clear of giving an unkind opinion.  For me, loving kindness, along with wisdom are the highest qualities I can exhibit.  Based on my own values, based on what I want my life to be like and how I want to feel about myself, these qualities are better than others.

But I cannot sit here and say that everyone “should” agree with me.  I have not met anyone who disagreed that these qualities are nice ones, but everyone’s priorities differ as to which quality is most important.

As ever,  I believe that we all have inside us an inner voice, a gut feeling, a knowing, a gauge of what is right and wrong for us.  I believe following that guidance is better than ignoring it in that our lives flow so much more easily when we do.  But this guide will take us on different paths and that is part of the beauty of our diversity.

Each of us is special, not better than anyone else but very special indeed.

Live fully and enjoy Who You Really Are!

Do I have to be better than I am?  Do I have to choose which parts of me fit the “better” mold?

How can I expect the world to unite when I cannot fit all my own pieces together?