Saturday, September 19, 2009

Practice non-judgment

I was saddened a few weeks ago when I received an email going around the internet denouncing the US Postal Service for printing a stamp celebrating a Muslim Holiday. The author of this email cited several anti-American Muslim extremist bombings as if that represented the entire Muslim population.

This type of lumping groups of people together based on the actions of a few is ignorant and dangerous. It would be like saying all Christians are murderers because they burnt witches and went on Crusades, or all Germans are bad because of Hitler's appalling deeds, or all white people are haters because of some extremists. It is so sad that in today's day and age this type of thinking still exists. My father teaches at a university and is friends with some very loving Muslim families who treat him with such kindness that it would put some people of other religions to shame. We cannot and should not ever generalize about groups of human beings based on the actions of a few, or by our limited experience with them.

My grandma, sadly was very prejudiced most of her lifetime because a few young hoodlums beat up my grandfather when they were newly married. It wasn't until the end of her life, when a dear woman of color became her best friend in the nursing home, that she was able to let go of the pain and open her heart to know the soul inside a group she once judged. I was happy for her healing. Mom brought grandma and Rosa some Polish food and Rosa's daughter brought her and grandma fried chicken - it was funny that food was the bridge between racial ignorance and prejudice. We all eat, after all. We all bleed. We all love.

And while most of us on this list wouldn't presume to make such assumptions and prejudicial judgments about an entire population based on race or religion, we have to be careful not to extrapolate our own experiences and prevent ourselves from living. Its so easy to say, "Oh I had a bad relationship so I am biased against all men or all women," for example. I once asked the women in a class to list their negative beliefs about men and vice versa. It was amazing - so many women responded, "Men are controlling." So many men responded, "Women are flaky," and yet I asked, "Have you met all men?" "Have you met all women?" or are these judgments coming from your experiences alone?"

We limit ourselves from living if we extrapolate our judgments based on a limited range of experience. I wanted to try a can of Lychee fruit from the 99cent store for example. It was something I'd never had and I figured it was only $1. It was horrible!! The taste of the can permeated the fruit! But will this stop me from trying new things or even Lychee if I ever get it ripe off the tree? No! It will just stop me from trying that can again :)

And on a bigger scale, I have had some pretty scary experiences with spirits in the past when I was worn down and not paying attention to my own intuition - most of you heard about the one last year that socked me. But will that stop me from talking to spirits? Not at all. It will just remind me to be more mindful of my own well being so as not to get tired and let that in.

Life is so varied, so diverse, so amazing, that we only hurt ourselves when we make sweeping judgments. We stop trying new things because something didn't work once, or twice, or even three times. We assume we'll never find love. We limit our exposure to only people like us. But there is spice in life in the diversity. If all the people in the world, or all the ice cream scoops in the world were plain vanilla, well that would be pretty boring :) Thank God (literally!) that we are different. Thank God we share different perspectives.

We don't have to agree with anyone else. We just have to appreciate the diversity. One of my dearest friends and I disagreed on nearly everything for years, and yet the more we know each other the more we find the common ground. I disagree, in general, with extremism in any form, and yet I can appreciate the passion these people have for their beliefs. I just don't have to be around it. And if it affects my life in any way, I will deal with it then. For now I have more important things to do :)

Practice non-judgment when you can. I'm not perfect at it, and you may not be either, but we can always do better. You will free up your soul to BE who you want to be, rather than fighting those who are not whom you wish they would be. And that, dear ones, is the point of this earthly journey - to learn to BE the love we truly are.

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