People Are Crazy

Why is the gap between knowing what to do, and doing it, at times the widest chasm in the world?

Keep your attention on that which you wish to see enlarge in your life, and it will materialize.

If something upsets or displeases you, take your attention off it and it will fade away.

Maybe not grow or fade as fast as one might wish. There may be an appearance of events meeting expectations, but it is only an appearance. A bit of time passing is sufficient to expose the compliant facade.

The poisonous state of public discourse (or lack thereof, replaced by lies, outraged resistance, screaming headlines and moral indignation) has lately infected my inner space, leaving me restless, angry, impatient and stressed to contain those negative feelings and not dump them out inappropriately on those around me. At the same time, I have been actively seeking to shed a lifelong dependence on anger as a motivator, and to replace that useful but difficult emotion with something less hard on my health.

This morning, I woke with a country music refrain echoing in my head. “God is great, beer is good and people are crazy.” In my contemplation, I filled in alternatives to the middle option, not being much of a beer drinker. Wine is good, tea is good, walking is good, friends are good, having an interesting job is good . Essentially the middle option became a counting of my blessings, followed consistently with the completing phrase “and people are crazy” so why should I expect life to go forward the way I would wish it to do?

Lately there have been comparisons to Watergate and the unraveling of the Nixon administration behind too many lies. I think a better comparison with present times lies in the 1950s and this nation’s hysterical fear of the bogeyman COMMUNISM which so infected society that it ruined careers, lives, public discourse and American foreign policy, leading the nation into the state of endless war that continues today. We are supposedly fighting a different foe now (Taliban, radical Islam, Boko Haram) but still basically having our fears exploited and our lives ended, for the profit of a few, and to enable that small group to delude themselves into believing they are powerful.

Santa Fe New Mexico Quakers recently held a gathering to explore feelings about race relations, and how the Meeting might make a positive contribution to the dialog about cultural sensitivity. Four questions were posed, and attendees gathered in groups to discuss their answers. I was not able to participate, but did write out my response to the questions.

1) As a child do you recall your family discussing how the world would treat you differently from your home environment?

2)  What was your first memory of being conscious of race. What happened?

3)  Has there been or what would have been the reaction of your family to an interracial partnership?

4)  How has a relationship or friendship with someone (of either the same race or of a different race) given you a different perspective on race?

My long essay can best be summarized as an exposition of the value of meeting others from a place of curiosity and respect, open to learning and thinking more about “what can I give” than “what can I get” from the encounter. Knowing how best to approach those whom one perceives as “different” does not, however, mean being able to implement that approach. Once again, there is that chasm between know what to do, and doing it.

God it great, mutually respectful dialog is good, and people will nonetheless seem to be crazy.

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