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Inch Worms on the Plateau of Realism

I feel very sure just about everyone has blind spots or crazy spots in their personality. They come with the territory of being a human. I think they come with everyone’s DNA, but often, if not always, are intensified by experiences or lack of experiences in our impressionable youth.

One of my particular personality type’s blind spots is idealism, which is not bad if balanced with enough common sense. But unfortunately that seems to come to some of us very late in life. So, we develop survival mechanisms to minimize the pain of constant disappointment and frustration with the world, including with ourselves.

Some of us pick an idealistic goal in a particular area and simply focus on it with total tunnel vision while pouring all our energies into it. Unfortunately, eventually most of us either burn out or catch on that we can only inch toward ideals in this flawed and very unfinished world.

Others of us latch on pretty early to the pleasure principle….pleasures block pain…..so we eat, drink and make out with Mary or Harry. Eventually this either kills us, destroys our relationships or gets us run out of town, so we too are challenged to face the pitiful little realities of human existence.

So down deep many of us fear that what is actually driving us is congenital insanity. Naturally, we’d rather cling to an addiction, which we assure ourselves is either a virtue or else something that we could always get over, than face our fear that we are crazy. Because being crazy might not be something we are able to do anything about. Maybe all the world’s pills and all the world’s doctors couldn’t put our tiny cracked selves together again.

If we are lucky enough (or blessed) to find a source of love –  just as we are, we  can become able to bear the pain of disillusionment about ourselves and thus the rest of the world. Then most of us, after settling only temporarily in the valley of cynicism, will find our way to a reasonably satisfying existence as inch worms on the plateau of realism.

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What If It Only Takes Ten More People Becoming A Little More Loving to Change the World?

I have been reading and learning a lot about forgiveness. We all have different proclivities for how we handle anger and hurt. Recently a blog post about our responses to horrifying acts of terrorism against innocent children challenged me to explore the polarities of love and anger and forgiveness.
I’m not sure about this, but some scriptures and some experiences I have had myself make me suspect that forgiving someone has healing power not only for ourselves, but for the offending person. And here’s the freaky part: it can happen concretely simultaneously across great distances without being communicated. I can’t prove it. I have not read anything much about it, but I have had some minor, but thought provoking, experiences.

Also, years ago, I read a small book called “The Hundredth Monkey” which had some research statistics that claimed that monkeys on separate islands and continents can suddenly simultaneously learn new “human” kinds of skills. Their conclusion was that when a certain level of a population of a species acquire a new trait or ability, it somehow triggers a leap in the species across the world. And the author’s hope was that if we as individuals became peaceful, eventually the critical number of our species would bring about world wide peace.

I kind of liked the idea and shared it with friends, but my logical self was very dubious. And since statistical studies such as this can seldom control all the variables, I took this with a grain of salt.  Until recently when driving, I hesitated to start across an intersection when the light turned green because more and more people are running lights right after they turn red. And sure enough someone did. In the last four or five years I have observed a steady increase in this disturbing phenomena.

Something clicked for me today. Is this a negative example of the “hundredth monkey” theory?

Again, as David Hume taught, cause and effect are almost impossible to prove, which is why we measure statistical probability.  But even a remote possibility that our own small struggle to become more loving, forgiving, peaceable people might have a lot more significance for the larger scheme of things would be reason enough to expend more serious time and effort on that project!

Most of us reach a point in our lives where we recognize that we cannot change others, we may can facilitate their attempts to change, but we can’t make anyone want to change and we can’t magically change them even when they seek change. It’s a helpless feeling and tends to make us feel pretty hopeless about things like drug addiction, terrorism and war, and the gross inequality of resources and standard of living across our planet. And even when we are consciously on a Spiritual journey putting time and effort into becoming more loving, forgiving, and peaceful, there are times it hardly seems worth the struggle, if we are managing at least to avoid breaking the big “TEN” in case there really are a heaven and a hell.

What if it matters a lot more than we can imagine for us to clean up our only mildly toxic act: our cursing bad drivers, keeping people out of our lane when they have ignored the warning that theirs is closed further down the road, turning people against one another through gossip, holding grudges, spending a major part of the rest of our lives seeking vengeance under the name of justice for real harms done us or those we love, or even just blaming everyone else for our own failures?

I tried to teach my children to judge the effect of their actions by the age old excuse, “Everybody else is doing it.”  What will the world become like if everyone else does what you are doing? What will hotels have to charge if every person steals a towel or a pillow? What will driving anywhere be like if everyone drives like it’s a race to beat out all the others?

Or maybe even more pertinent, perhaps everyone not doing the same things you are not doing. Not offering help to someone that hurt our feelings, not reaching across differences, not sharing from our abundance because we assume the worst of others. Not picking up trash. Often we simply ignore our sins of omission.

The infamous butterfly fluttering on the other side of the world isn’t making a moral choice, but we do each make numerous moral choices as to what we do or neglect to do each day.

What if it only takes ten more truly loving people to change the world? Not by their accomplishments, but by their love, forgiveness, and peace? Will you and I be one of that ten?