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Lessons I Find it Hard to Live By-Part One
Expanding My Circle of Compassion
Any life lesson worth learning; ones which involve taking into account the needs of those I interact with is difficult. It is damn near impossible to transcend above my own desires and misconceptions. I accept there exists a highly improbable scenario of someone truly understanding and being the embodiment of that understanding. Had I the great fortune to meet such a person I would (in all likelihood) fail to recognize it because I exist in a world of my own creation which bends the rules to these lessons to such a degree as to allow me to reasonably and logically deduce that such a person has not been found. I know that in order to recognize such a person I must first know myself well enough to not only recognize where I bend these rules, but cease to struggle in an attempt to rationalize why I feel I have the right to.
The more I seek to know myself; the harder life becomes. The internal struggle to match not only words and actions, but secret thoughts, with a higher understanding is difficult because once I comfortably believe I have arranged my being to live within the parameters of lessons I believe to be important to my journey of understanding; I find that the lesson must be applied to higher and higher levels of our interpersonal relationships. So, I must begin once again to ferret out misconceptions and biases I have allowed to become entrenched within me; ones not previously recognized. That against the background of a world I often find it difficult to believe is actively participating in a similar journey.
“At the end of this journey, we go back from where we came. Regardless of our apparent differences, we are all the same.” Author unknown
This is a basic tenet I have not always believed to be true. How could one, growing up in a society that has fire and brimstone as one of the possible end scenarios?
I accepted, without much thought on the matter, some would live and some would die at the end of our journey. But, as I grew up and my circle of acquaintances began to grow and those I had grown up with began to change I realized the line in the sand religion had presented to me as a child was more insidious than I could have imagined. Hell became less of a concept and more of a reality as I became more and more aware. Yet the waters were quickly muddied when I realized the line in the sand was easily washed away by the wave of public opinion and society moved the line at will; depending on whose voice could command the most attention.
Of course my first inclination was to believe perhaps the doomsday voices were right. The unseen force of Satan was active in our world; surreptitiously moving the grains of sand to make the line less visible to an unsuspecting world. I sought solace and guidance within the Bible yet what I found when I read that book, for myself, did little to bolster my confidence in the convictions handed to me as a child.
I realized the line I was given was difficult to defend, since it had been drawn by the finger of a human hand as were all of the lines presented to the world by all other sects and all other religions.
I was forced, by my own confusion, into a hatred of all religion. Karl Marx, in my mind at the time, had said it right. Religion was the opiate of the masses. But, my unfailing faith in the mercy and grace of God could not leave me long hating the choices of my fellow travelers. I soon came to accept that a desire to know God does not equate, in all of us, to the security of having the faith that God will guide each of us on the individual road we are destined to follow.
The Privilege of Attempting to Understand is a Double Edged Sword
My beliefs have morphed to where they stand today. We are all the same. Struggling throughout this fragile existence. Loved enough to be allowed the privilege of experiencing the wonder of life and left to make what we will of that experience. We are victims of nothing other than the insular nature of our understanding. We consign ourselves to the misery of believing the insular nature of our existence is somehow personal and unchangeable.
I know that we are all the same yet I am unable to take the leap of faith required to open my heart completely to live my belief in a world I do not trust to feel the same. I dream of the time we all look back and sigh in sadness that we missed that grand opportunity to know we are one, while experiencing the wonder of living in this amazing world and I wonder if I am not alone. Or, worse, if I have embarked on a journey which has resulted in being an island of my own making, while attempting to find the connection I believe to exist.