14 January 2015: Speak truth, offer gratitude for blessings

Speak truth, offer gratitude for blessings

Last week I wrote about the first six of what I call 13 Steps, upon which one might reflect about his/her life in 2014.  Perhaps the last seven can serve as guides through 2015.

Living to one’s higher self, number seven on the list, encompasses the areas we generally subscribe to morality and ethics.  One problem is that in the end there is no absolute, agreed-upon objective moral standard.  For example, the Fifth Commandment reads “Thou shalt not kill,” yet even those who proclaim most loudly as God’s inviolable Truth routinely either kill or give assent to it in the forms of war, make-my-day laws, and the death penalty.

Ethics, which deals both with the right and wrong in terms of morality as well as general good and bad behavior, is a far more preferable term to me.  It comes down to how we treat others.  I hold that that is something that is hardwired in our psyches, having evolved in us from our earliest days as a species. Survival in the opposition of the wild in nature and from the outsider called for early humans to cooperate among themselves.  Of course, that was and still is easier said than done, but, nevertheless, we all have a sense of fairness and kindness even the most vile among us.

Living to one’s higher self comes down to one doing his/her best vis-à-vis fellow humans.  When one treats others poorly, true guilt arises in reaction to that.

Compassion is the rule of both steps eight and nine.  Number eight calls for being gentle and forgiving to one’s self and nine in context of others.

Spiritually humans are clods.  That’s the reason we’re here: to learn, grow, and move beyond.

Too often we demand too much of ourselves, setting personal standards with little or no margin for error we don’t expect of others.  Perfection, besides being relative and premised upon personal and societal standards, is unachievable unless one is bowling or engaged in other mundane activity.  Then it’s “so what?” if one bowls a perfect 900 series.  For many, it’s difficult to admit to failings and limitations.  See number two.

With regard to others, too often we don’t or cannot know what they’re enduring.  Often times rude behavior arises from a sense of self-importance or poor upbringing or discipline.  At other times though, it arises from stress the individual is enduring and trying to conceal.  Further, all too often we judge others based upon our own life experiences and cultures.

Having said that, compassion doesn’t mean giving others passes or free rides since in the end we’re each responsible for our personal behavior.

Ten and eleven call for one speaking and acting upon his/her truth.  Democracy provides the perfect arena for that if it is truly an open and just society.  As members and citizens of one, it is one’s ethical duty—see number seven—to participate in all facets.  The media and political process provide platforms for them.  I’m doing it right now.  You’re public response to my thoughts is your opportunity to engage.

When people speak truth to power and act upon it, only then can they be free.  Our ancestors did it in 1776.   Workers, racial and gender minorities, and other disenfranchised sub-groups have been doing it since to the white-male dominant, financially powerful elite and straight culture.

Staying present is what number 12 reminds one to do.  It’s so very difficult in modern society with the distractions and busy-ness of life bombarding us at overwhelming rates.  Taking time out to check in with one’s self or simply quietly sit is imperative.  We call it “down time.”  Turn off the noise and listen to the stillness.

Finally, it’s imperative to offer gratitude each day for all blessings bestowed.  When one acknowledge the simplest blessings, great burdens seem less and demanding and critical stuff can be more easily seen in its proper light.

Please keep in mind none of these are new or original.  I garnered them over the years and put them in a sequence that isn’t necessarily hierarchal but has a sense of one being dependent upon the previous.

One of my greatest blessings has been writing this column for over eleven years.  My thanks to you, my readers, and my editors for giving me the opportunity.  I make one promise: I’ll continue to do my best.

Blessings for all in Clear Creek in 2015.

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