wrong is wrong

You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean;
If a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.
-Mahatma Gandhi

Humanity was given a precious and singular gift – the knowledge of right and wrong and the freedom to choose between the two. Each person faces the ‘right vs wrong’ decision all the time and the one we choose determines not only our future but our character and integrity as well.

How do I choose between right and wrong? If I am sitting at a stoplight at midnight and the light never changes, just stays green on the opposite side, do I just continue to sit there or do I take a chance and run the light? Well, I wait a few minutes, then look to make sure no one is coming and I run the light. According to the law of man, that was a wrong choice and I could get a ticket for that choice.

The laws of man are a lot simpler than the laws of God. Law enforcement and rules tells us what is right and what is wrong. As with anything thing man attempts to dictate, there are problems within that right vs wrong structure and there are some laws that need to be broken in order to be changed. But the law of man is not my focus here.

What about God’s Law? And what do I mean when I say God’s Law? I’m not referring to the 10 Commandments (although they are included). I am referring when I know within my own spirit that what I am doing is wrong (which may or may not be against man’s law). Maybe it was the time I sneaked a peek on my boss’ desk to see what the latest gossip was so I could spread it around. Maybe it was that pen, or notepad, or some other mundane office supply I took home from work or off someone elses’ desk. Maybe it was money out of the coffee fund I took because I wanted a soda. Every day there are many incidents of ‘little white wrong-doings’ that seemingly hurt no one.

So then, I have a revelation that what I am doing is actually wrong and it is against God’s Law of “love your neighbor and don’t covet your neighbor’s possessions.” And I resolve to stop. But why am I resolving to stop?

Is it because I might get caught? Absolutely! I don’t want to get caught doing something petty but wrong. My reputation would be ruined. People would think differently about me. My life might change drastically in an unpleasant way as a result.

Is it because it might lead me to other, more heinous wrong-doings? Possibly! Stealing post-its and pens and pencils has gotten more than one person in trouble because they thought ‘how easy is this’ and stole more, sold them on e-bay© and were eventually found out. Any step over the line into wrong-doing carries with it the possibility of even greater crimes.

But both of the above reasons should not be the reason to stop any minor or petty wrong-doing. The reason needs to be simply because it is wrong. I shouldn’t take those pens (read: steal) simply because they are not mine; I did not purchase them; it is simply wrong to put it in my pocket however innocuous it may seem. I may have contributed to the coffee fund, but it is not my money for the taking. It belongs to the group. To take it would simply be wrong. And one more example, that sandwich in the office refrigerator looks delicious but I didn’t make it and I didn’t pay for the ingredients so it is simply wrong for me to take it no matter how hungry I am.

Let this be a lesson for me as I go forth from this point in my life – stop doing wrong things simply because it is wrong to do them. No other reasons/excuses allowed.

This is the only way I will be able to look at myself in the mirror and be okay with me. This is the only way I will be able to honestly kneel before the Throne of God and worship Him.

Wrong is simply wrong.

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belonging to the collective

Remind yourself every morning, every morning, every morning:
“I’m going to do something, I’ve made a commitment.”
Not for yourself, but beyond yourself. You belong to the collective.
Don’t go wandering off, or you will perish.
-Rosalie Little Thunder

Last night I stumbled on a blog [introvert 61?] written by and about introverts. I read a few entries and found it interesting. The most important thing I read was the main difference between introverts and extroverts – how they recharge their energy. I’ve known for years I was an introvert and have not been bothered by it most of the time. Although in my young adult years I tried to play the part of an extrovert with disastrous results. I was a little surprised to find so many people (via the comments section) found validation in those words. My ‘perfect self’ thought it silly that those people couldn’t accept themselves the way they were. I had to shut up Miss Perfect immediately in order for me to accept the knowledge that was being proffered.

Anyway, the difference in ins and exs is in how they react around people. Almost too simply put, if people drain you of energy and you need alone time to recharge, you are an introvert. Conversely, if people and activity energize you and you don’t like being alone that much, you are an extrovert. Of course, there are many points along the spectrum where you can reside; me, I am close to the middle-end of the introvert side. In order to ‘recharge’ I need at least one day of the week with no human interaction at all – or at the very least – I am able to tolerate a brief conversation with mom or a neighbor. If I don’t get that one day I am – well, let’s just say, not a pleasant person to be around.

Even though I border on extreme introversion, I am still a part of the world, or “the collective” as Rosalie Little Thunder puts it. Which means that although I have monastic preferences, God has not called me to be a cloistered nun or monk or other such person hidden away from the world. He has called me to be in this world, to be a part of it, and to learn from it. There are times when I question His Wisdom, but that is to be expected from a rebellious child like me.

So what am I learning from the infernal creation of mankind? I am learning grace, compassion, love, patience and faith. I fail my pop quizzes all the time, but I keep showing up for class. Each day I get out there in the world and do my best; although sometimes I rebel and refuse to do my best on purpose.

I am also learning on a daily basis that God loves me regardless. The other day when I rebelled on purpose and did that which I knew was wrong to do but did it anyway, I spent the rest of the day and some of the next day beating myself up for my stupidity. Then, a thought – a still, small voice in my head – the bad things I was thinking about myself were coming from me and not from God. I know that seems like that I should have known but part of the beating myself up was telling myself that God was disappointed in me (one of my greatest fears is disappointing God). I realized it was I who was disappointed in me, not God. Those feelings were not coming from the Throne, but my own ego.

So I am learning that though I do bad things on purpose or by accident, God loves me regardless and the only negative thoughts come from me and not Him. Maybe this will help me the next time I rebel. Which knowing me, it is only a matter of hours or days.

 

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a ripple in the lake

My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.
-Desmond Tutu

There is a spiritual truth that I have recently only just begun contemplate – that we as humans are all connected to one another. Each thing I do has an impact, large or small on another person or persons. The often used metaphor of a drop in a lake slowly ripples outward to affect the entire lake, in seen or unseen ways, is an example of this. And I have written of this before – in the way the boss yells at the man who yells at the wife who yells at the child who kicks the dog.

At work I have what I call “window people,” people who stand at my window and talk to me each morning on their way through the building. Most of the window people are simply looking for a friendly face to chat with or tell some good news to someone. There is this one window person, Bart (not his real name), who is slightly off the beam but in a good way. He is super friendly and talks to me about his day and often tells me the same story over and over again. He has recently started playing computer games so every time he levels up he is so excited he can hardly contain his enthusiasm and joy.

As bothersome as he is sometimes (because I may be busy doing other, more “important” things) he always makes me smile. Now, I could handle this one of two ways, I could stop what I am doing to smile and enjoy his conversation or I could be grumpy with him and he would eventually get the hint and stop talking to me. What would happen if I were grumpy to him? Would he notice? Would it stop him from being friendly to other people? Would it hurt his feelings? I don’t know the answer to these questions, which I think is the point.

I don’t know how my mood or words or tone of voice affects other people. And precisely because I don’t know, I need to be careful not to inflict injury or harm. The old rhyme from childhood about ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me’ is so devastatingly wrong that it is hard to believe it is still in our lexicon. Words do hurt and tone of voice does hurt and it is up to me to try not to hurt anyone with my words or voice.

Alas, I am not perfect and I often fail miserably, but that doesn’t keep me from trying. So for Bart, it is terribly important to him that he share with me his joy. And it is important for me to receive that joy. Some days his is the only happy voice I hear all day and he always reminds me to be joyful. I don’t want to hurt him so I simply return his smile and happiness as much as I am honestly able to and am glad of it.

Bart and I are connected in ways we know not. When he is not here in the morning, my spirit misses his joy if my mind does not miss his inane chatter. I don’t know what he receives from me. But I can make sure he does receive attention, a smile and happiness with whatever news he has to tell me. And, he takes his joy that has just been amplified with me into his day and makes others happy as well. If I was grumpy or mean with him, he might take that into his day as well and adversely affect any other people he may encounter. And if he does then I am partly responsible for those other people. I have affected them in ways I do not know. And if I am to influence anyone in any way – even those I do not know – I want it to be for good and not bad. I want to be a blessing and not a curse. At least that is what I pray for and hope for each day.

 

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