It Doesn’t Matter If You’re Good or Bad
How many times in your life did you lump decisions, actions, people, yourself, anything at all into a category? How many times did that category boil down to whether you considered something to be good or bad?
I often did that and didn’t bat an eye. It was the only way to function in this world. It wasn’t until I was confronted with losing someone I loved because something bad happened, that I was forced to explore the contradiction of a good person doing something bad.
The journey wasn’t easy. The self-deprecating comments I unleashed on myself, in an effort to forgive the individual, were relentless. They silenced me from communicating my feelings because I didn’t want anyone repeating the things I played non-stop to myself. I grappled with how many times is too many? Is there a limit? There surely must be a limit. What does it mean to forgive? Is forgiveness an option?
When the concept of good or bad came up in Conversations with God, I was skeptical. There are very clear things like starvation, rape, murder, abuse, the list goes on and on that are bad. There was no way that God could rationalize these things as just things that are. But the more I read the more the book forced me to reframe my beliefs. What if instead of good or bad, I reframed it as a natural consequence of a collection of beliefs. If we really sat down and thought about it, what are the root causes of the things I listed above? How can we live in a world where throwing away uneaten food is acceptable and then complain about starvation?
In the book it encourages us to ask, how can we teach children to be ashamed of their bodies and sexuality and then be confused when they develop an unhealthy relationship with them? That perspective was jarring when I read it. I didn’t really know how to process it, but I didn’t have any arguments against it. So I continued reading.
The book goes on to stress that something that is good for you, may be bad for another person and vice versa. At the very fundamentals of this belief it speaks to our differences as human beings, not as a category of good or bad. As a Professor I was constantly confronted with students who cheated on tests and assignments. And it was frustrating and exhausting.
I grew up with the belief that cheating was bad. It meant that you didn’t prepare yourself well enough or you didn’t care. But the longer I taught the more I realized that my students didn’t view what they were doing as cheating. They considered it as either sharing knowledge or helping their friend. When termed like that, it sounded noble. How many of you would help your friend or family member out if a test would derail their dreams? And if you got caught helping, how would you feel about it? You’d rationalize it as a good thing that had unfortunate consequences.
There are countless examples of me doing something for myself, my family or my friends that someone else would consider as bad and vice versa. If you think about the times you’ve encountered different cultures and opinions and how frustrating it was when they believe something else, that moment should be a lesson. Yet, we decide to push those people away instead of taking the opportunity to really understand their position.
The concept of good and bad is subjective. Nothing is good and nothing is bad. There are differences and those differences have consequences. When they are believed on the level of a collective consciousness, it produces the desired results of the consciousness. Every decision has a consequence. Sometimes they work in your favour, other times they don’t. However, that doesn’t mean that we’re off the hook for every decision that hurts someone else. We should seek to help others and encourage them to find their purpose in life. The book enforces that all humans have a purpose that serves the planet, humans and other species. There is always a way to eradicate the things above. Look for the root causes of the beliefs and change the collective consciousness. It works every time. Every war that has started and ended, occurred because of a shift in collective consciousness. Sometimes you go to war to end the suffering of your people. Other times you go to war to gain more control of resources. Whatever it is, you can’t go to war without a significant amount of people desiring it for one reason or the other.
So next time you encounter someone who has a different perspective, ask the person to explain their position. You will gain more from putting in the effort to understand someone. If you want to be understood, you must seek to understand others. If you want to change the collective consciousness, you must confront opposing values and beliefs with kindness. And yes, you have to make the first step with the intent to be kind, open, understanding, reflective and persistent. You will gain more wisdom and more compassion for others. And maybe you will start to see that everyone is protecting something they love. And maybe people will help you bring forth peace and opportunities for everyone. But you have to take the time to genuinely understand them.
That being said, you are not supposed to endanger yourself, mentally, spiritually, physically or emotionally to understand others. I will expand on this in next week’s post.
See you Friday!