-- by David Bartholomew, Feb. 12, 2003
I was just thinking that if God, or whatever name you would use in reference to a Supreme Being or Beings-- Allah, Buddah, Great Spirit, Krishna, your name here-- was driving around the neighborhood today
the one thing we would be least likely to see
would be a bumper sticker reading something to the effect of My Children are Honor Students at Earth Humanity School.
For we, as a race, as pupils, as rambunctious children, are truly behaving badly these days in the arena of Works well with others. Our report cards are reflecting this on the nightly news. We are indeed staying after school and being held back from graduating to the next level. I dont see how we are making God proud. And little of our work is worthy of being stuck to the refrigerator door.
You know--the God Almighty we've heard so much about; whose "Word" we profess to continue to honor; who gave us precious life; whose bastardized scripture we recite like there's a "sincerity prize" being offered by unseen, Candid-Camera-like judges anonymously making their way through the world; which have said, in basically the same keep-it-simple-stupid manner-- in all the languages, of all the sacred texts of all time-- "Thou shalt not kill"; that same God which both sides of any of the countless battles of time immemorial have invoked in the name of crushing, killing, smiting, burning, and vanquishing the enemy? Yes, that God, who shows benevolence incarnate by not wiping out this whole sad experiment that has generated the slowest learners on record, and who must question whether s/he is indeed capable of making mistakes as s/he sees ultimate bloody torture after holy reign of terror, genocide after atrocity, perpetuated on any... make that every... given day, including today. God--whom we pray and prostrate ourselves to in our darkest hours of confusion... pleading to know how s/he could allow us to do such heinous things to each other?
I'm here to tell us that we are all hypocrites and bad sports, lazy and unimaginative... and that we have all earned many eraser-cleaning detentions for our disgraceful showings.
Like kindly old Mrs. Goodheart, your second grade teacher, I have some comments intended to bolster morale and inspire improvement come next grading period... that will, hopefully, spare us from a "parent"-teacher conference, a bunch of hellfire and brimstone, and any future appearance, onscreen or off, by Charlton Heston.
The categories for areas of improvement are:
Practice What You Preach.
Those of us who claim "we have been made in God's image" have not lived up to our end of the bargain. We assert power in achieving our whims, and shrink back, recoil and play small when called to account for our part in the world we see. We state we are made in his/her image, but we conveniently call ourselves blasphemous to think we can take God-like actions to stand for love and creation, creativity and imagination, in righting the wrongs we have created. We shirk our personal responsibility and defer to institutions and "powerful" individuals to make our decisions for us... when it works for us. And when our guilt can be swallowed no longer or they quickly overrun our control, we slaughter those sacrificial lambs--those witting bagmen and doers of the dirty deed-- that have now disappointed us... but who ran rampantly amuck, unchecked, with license at all times prior to this when we simply couldn't be bothered.
"God doesn't make mistakes." Yet here are all of us human creations, having divvied up the understanding of Spirit in so many extraordinary expressions of how that can look--many religions, many catchy wordings, elaborate practices, and all those beautiful buildings. Here we are deciding for ourselves in our spiritual arrogance that only our way--our group-- is sacred... chosen... and that all others need be converted to the right way... and that those other manifestations must be... mistakes. Those who agree with us are right and righteous, those that don't are heathens, preposterously misguided and often simple ones at that.
We fight over small scraps of land that symbolize the supposed birth of the holiest in us... yet will not see that so much bloodshed has tarnished the luster of these sandy plots of dirt and muddied their relevance. Spirit does not come from place! It is in all place. God said it, if you were listening, and so have all those silly indigenous people who, in their naivete (bless their hearts, I sure love their crafts), haven't partaken in any of the world wars or even the top 50 ranking historical bloodbaths. Certainly no recent group of the pious has stood large enough to show mastery of their particular religious precepts... by just taking the spirit inside them, and leaving such contested postage stamps of geography via the high road... as proof of their ultimate understanding of this religion that has kept them so entrenched and feeling good about themselves. If religion is causing wars, then religion needs to be transcended or re-examined.
If you're not getting it, don't try to teach it. Don't act on it. Don't speak it. Knowledge is about memorization to past a test... wisdom comes in the ability to apply principles in the real world. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing--like so many gun barrels pointed in each others' direction. Improve here, and daddy may be proud enough to sport a bumper sticker on his ride.
That would be worthy of a bumper sticker. Tolerance of new ideas, different ideas... even as those rub up against us and chafe and make us uncomfortable. We don't want everyone to look the same, or be the same... as in those communist countries and rival religious cults... yet we haven't yet done very well with differences. We give it a lot of lip service, but we still don't want to fraternize with or be brainwashed by those other people.
Here's a hint--If you're yelling so that a wall of energy is going out so that nothing is getting in... nothing is getting in. Not any degree of understanding of the other. Not anything.
Further hint--If your livelihood depends on keeping hate and fear and misinformation "up" in the world (read media, slanted talk show, institution with at-stakeness in recruiting and maintaining head count), you should probably question your conflict of interest, motive, integrity, and your part in the chaos that's being spread. No sticker for you.
Living the "Word"...
as opposed to hiding behind it. Whatever your personal credo or manifesto. Living the actual spirit of the Word, your word; whatever Bible, or Koran, or Torah; however old the parchment it is printed on. Gleaming the metaphor, the archetype from it--and acting from the wisdom of the moral of the story, at least to the degree of so many Aesop's fables, Grimms' fairy tales, or the odd fortune cookie fortune. Bumper sticker.
Responsibility and acceptance of the potential within oneself to choose to act from the God that is also within. A bumper sticker and a gold star. You will see peace in your lifetime.
Looking to the angry enemy, and agreeing to see and understand in their eyes the wrongs that made them so. Taking time to mete out empathy, tenderness and healing in addressing injustices done to those persons. Exhibiting and extending patience and understanding on at least a par with that which you'd offer to a small child, physically or mentally challenged person, or which you'd hope to receive yourself upon discovery of your own, similar, relatable wounds. Two stickers, a star and ice cream! You are approaching inner peace as we speak!
Okay then. It's still early in the term. No need to see these marks as a foregone conclusion. Still plenty of time for improvement. Still a few years on the various calendars prophesizing their own demise. So go make yourself and others proud1 And don't forget to work your relatives with respect to the bake sale and fundraiser.
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