People as Prey

A man’s character is most evident by how he treats those who are not in a position either to retaliate or reciprocate.—Paul Eldridge

One thing guaranteed to make most of us angry is to be regarded as prey. And that, of course, is the hallmark of our age: We citizens and consumers are looked at as so much fodder for the predators’ pockets.

 But who are those hoping to pick us clean? Well, since this attitude is a primary moral failing of our age, just about everyone, beginning with the government and ending with the homeless panhandler on the street corner—yes, I do give him money—but including any number of folks in between. (All those phone calls from strange numbers. Do they really hook any business from that?)

 So why do we look at one another as so many ripe and succulent plums to be plucked down and ingested? Someone might suggest that’s because we’re a highly mobile society and don’t live in communities very much anymore, don’t know our neighbors. But actually a lot of this type of thing goes on in communities. Bernie Madoff, who stole so much money from his peers, the number was staggering—between 12 and 20 billion dollars http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernard_Madoff —took the money from people and institutions within his social group, including Jewish charities.

 The reason for all this predatory behavior is that few people in our times really understand that life is more about what we can do for others (not simply by way of money) and less about what we can derive for ourselves. The irony is that those who do get the most out of life are those who simply give the most. A life well lived begins with an open heart and love of others. That warm, gushy feeling when we’re touched? That’s the stuff that a life of value is built upon.

 I’m not asking anyone to lose his intelligence. We can still be guided toward the good and away from the bad while trying to be generous with everyone. We’re not here to be food for the narcissist who is trying to bag and tag her emotional or financial victims or sell us items and services we have no need of. Let’s sidestep those types. But that doesn’t mean we have to harden our hearts—just that we can open our eyes.

 In addition, we have to be wary of our own inclination to see others as “object,” to try to sell our own wares in such a way that we become manipulative—in commerce or in love. The hard sell in any aspect of our lives, the wanting from others what they wouldn’t otherwise freely give is a fault within us that has to be seen and worked on with a hope that we’ll only travel in the direction, and only demand, what will serve.

 The cost of seeing others as prey, the cost of making others our prey is tremendous. We detract from the enjoyment of these people and of our lives. Our insincerity takes away from our very selves and casts a grey shadow over everything we do. The cost is simply too high for us to indulge our tendency to mimic the behavior so very prevalent in our society.

If you volunteer to be a client, I’ll voluntarily treat you right. I help people with their writing: GHayden2@nyc.rr.com. Or not.

Anger

 Sometimes anger feels empowering—better certainly than fear or anxiety. But fear and anxiety often fill in for an anger that has been long suppressed.

 I’m pretty certain that most of us are carrying around a lot of squelched/repressed anger, in fact, hidden away during childhood. At that time our needs and wants were of primary importance—to us, but not always to our parents or a caregiver. We would become angry, furious, enraged when our needs (or our whims) weren’t acceded to. And then our anger was countered by intense disapproval.

 As little people, we were at the mercy of giants, perhaps well-meaning giants, but certainly ones handing out rules and restrictions that often went against our needs and wants. After all, the giants were trying to socialize us, not to mention that they had needs and wants of their own. We were thwarted.

 We bottled up a lot of anger, some of which has resolved itself over the years through various means. Life mellows one out; therapy may help; and simple understanding of a situation or of the “other” may drain away old inner explosions.

 But not all anger is simply from our early experiences. Current injustices can cause us to steam up with a rage—sometimes triggered by sensitivities developed in the past, sometimes simply from an innate sense of what is really fair.

 Consider Jesus and the moneychangers he threw out of the temple. Do we think Jesus was just an angry guy? That pretty much doesn’t fit the picture we have of the healer and most compassionate of men. He drove the “commercial interests” out because he was angry, angry at the outrage of what these people were doing in a sacred space, a house of prayer, the temple supposedly dedicated to God.

 So maybe anger isn’t always wrong—even for the spiritually minded.

 That’s right; it’s not.

 The problem comes in determining if anger stems from old and other issues or if anger arises in meting out a righteous judgment.

 Often we become angry, lose our tempers, and then an hour later feel regret. We feel bad, that we made a socially unacceptable misstep. (Or at least women often feel this way.)

 Does that mean we were wrong in letting loose our anger? No, not necessarily.

 So how do we decide what should be expressed and what felt/experienced and not acted on?

 I’m sorry to say that in reality no rule of thumb exists. The source of anger over a situation is very individual, and moreover, we generally won’t know what the anger arises from. My energetic rejuvenation guy, Anton Baraschi, said one day, “You might be hungry or tired, or…”

 Indeed, that day I’d been cold inside my apartment and snapped at someone on the phone over a trifle.

 We simply have to work with anger, as we do with all our other difficult and volatile emotions. We have to do our best, and while trying to be authentic, hope to be guided by a higher power.

 I only wanted to say one thing: Don’t stop or step on your anger or force it underground because you’re a “good” person. Good people can get angry, too. Getting angry isn’t a sin. (But don’t hurt anyone in the process. Really, that’s not the right way to behave.)

 If you perceive the other person is doing something wrong, you can let that person know—or not, if the situation doesn’t really invite such a response. (We might not want to tell off our bosses.) Later, when the anger feels less hot, we might be able to better dissect its probable source.

 Lost your temper? Forgive yourself. Sometimes that happens and it’s not the end of the world or even, generally speaking, the end of the other person’s love for you.

 As spiritual master Andrew Cohen said one time, “I’m not trying to be a saint.” We don’t have to be unnatural.

 The more you deny that you’re angry in attempts to be holy, the more inhuman you will become, and the more inhuman you become, the harder you’ll find it to forgive.—Unknown

Want to take a fiction writing class with me? I’m the author of two writing instructionals and have won a couple of writing awards. Sign up for a Writer’s Digest University class: http://www.writersonlineworkshops.com/ . I give a lot of structural and ground-level writing feedback.

Feeling Misunderstood?

Once in a while we receive a shock. Someone we’re close to makes a statement that reveals the person hasn’t understood us at all.

 And in fact, the person hasn’t. Plus, we probably haven’t understood that individual, either—a long-time friend, a spouse, a sibling.

 We’ve been seen as less than what we consider ourselves to be, and we feel hurt, devastated even. We’re also angry.

 But wait. This could be kind of a good thing. Or at least according to some Sufi sects, who call this type of struggle “the way of bame.” http://realitysandwich.com/101841/sufism_and_way_blame/

 We don’t ask to be seen in a negative light, and yet it happens. Some people, the Sufis say, attract this type of reaction more than others. Maybe (this is me thinking here) we catalyze others to react against something positive in us. Or not. We really can’t know why this happens. And yet we’re left to deal with the feelings aroused in us.

 The emotional results are egotism, pure and simple. Our pride is hurt. We’re better than others have judged us to be. Perhaps. But what difference does that make? We can never be seen by other humans exactly as we are—and why is that important, anyway? What’s significant remains what is really within us, our real intentions. What’s vital remains our development into better human beings and worshippers of that which created us.

 So instead of adopting a hurt and defensive posture, maybe what we need to do is look into how we ourselves see the other, or others. Don’t we judge them and sometimes rather harshly, too? Would they want to be seen in as unkind a light as we throw on them? Perhaps that aspect of what’s going on needs to be examined first, before we spring to our own defense.

 For those of us who aren’t drunks, drug addicts, or outright scoundrels, this is what’s meant by the term “reformation of character.” Such patterns are small and delicate, hard to grasp or detect in ourselves. But these are the traits we need to track down, take hold of, and transform. Jesus said, “Judge not lest ye be judged.” Maybe he meant exactly this sort of thing, nothing grand.

Many of us come from hypercritical backgrounds. We were judged strictly as children and have taken on the role of judges ourselves.

 Criticism will fall on us, whether wrongly or rightly. Whether from lower forces trying to tear us down or from higher sources seeking to perfect us.

 We react, going straight into survival mode, because one or two of those we care about has “rejected” us. Without that person, we’re cast out into the wilderness, alone.

 But are we?

 In a world of billions of other human beings, even if this person were to set us adrift, wouldn’t someone else possibly happen along and befriend us? Is love so limited? And, is the person really dumping us, after all, or just trying to find a means of expression of that individual’s inner problem needing resolution.

 Without the friendship or caring of a single other member of our own species, don’t we still have the care and love of our Creator?

 Being criticized, viewed in a way we don’t see ourselves, isn’t death. Nor is praise life.

 We have to know ourselves and stand on our own without attaching too much importance to what others have to say of us. These others can’t be more central to our knowledge of our self than we ourselves are.

 And, in fact, our attention is due elsewhere, not on how we look to others, but on what is truly worthy of praise as well as what we have to accomplish in life.

 We need to be as salmon swimming against the tide, to discover a transformed approach to the problems of existence.

 But to stop a moment with a word about anger (more to come at a later date)—anger may be fully the right reaction at the right time—or it might not be. But we don’t always have to tamp our anger down, though we do need to control any actions harmful to others or even to property.

 And if the above solves nothing for you, maybe having correct punctuation will: My ebook, Punctuation, is only $2 and can be downloaded in several formats. You don’t need an e-reader, either. https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/120620

Lower Forces

So why aren’t we all walking around in absolute bliss and dwelling in communion with All There Is—the Absolute, the Divine?

By rights we ought to be because All That Exists (which includes us) is made up of the All and Everything effervescence—spirit. And spirit can’t be at the same time its opposite—matter—nor can it be other than absolute Good.

Spirit, All That Exists, God, Mind, cannot include, cede to, or present as evil.

Light and dark appear to our deluded brains as an underlying false assumption. That’s our dilemma. We believe in the negative, which has zero Reality, only a relative reality that’s accepted by most who live on this planet of ours.

The terrible betrayal of who and what we are (spirit not matter) began perhaps about 200,000 years ago when anatomical modern man started peopling the planet. (The hominid Lucy, who walked upright, lived more than three million years ago—not that we can show she was our ancestor—that’s a guess.)

Perhaps—and I’m only thinking here, not receiving knowledge—perhaps early man in his fall from that divinely absolutely state for which we were intended had a moment of fear. Fear took itself seriously and with the accumulation of further moments of fear became a “thing,” an entity, a lower force, the Opponent (of Kabbalah fame), Satan, Error (Mary Baker Eddy’s word).

Error may have no reality, as Mrs. Eddy says in Science and Health, but it shows up often enough to spoil the party.

Many ideas that have no validity derive from man’s early fears and misunderstandings that built something (unreal, or of no substance) that has seized man’s imagination and into which he has invested his beliefs.

A friend told me that such thoughts arose, according to A Course in Miracles, when someone was foolishness enough to imagine himself separate from God. Mankind spiraled down from there.

Now we need the audacity to see ourselves as one with our Source and to go against the mainstream of human history that says man has fallen from his high estate.

We have stumbled, perhaps, but now is the moment when we can reconnect with our true nature. How? Through intention, which takes us into a struggle against those forces given credence by the many who have proceeded us.

But remember—those who have passed before are no longer the great majority. We, on the Earth right now, are the great majority, and with a will to do good and be good, to resurrect our deepest, purest inner being, we can produce transformation for ourselves and for all who come after.

Easy? Spiritual master Andrew Cohen said that when we’re 51 percent invested in the path, the higher forces come to our aid. Others have indicated that a small group of dedicated spiritual warriors can turn the entire tide for humanity. So maybe the journey to wholeness is actually easier than we think. Worth a shot, right?

Need writing help at reasonable rates? GHayden2@nyc.rr.com