I received a comment on my post, “You Are Not a Fixer Upper — You Are Perfect Exactly as You Are!”, that made me want to clarify my philosophical position. Here is the comment:
For the good, well-intentioned people of this world, … it’s true, they are perfect exactly as they are. But this isn’t true of people who consciously do harm to others, like the guy who storms into the Planned Parenthood office with guns blazing, or the black masked ISIS guy who’s in charge of beheading people. I’m sorry, they aren’t perfect exactly as they are.
I do not condone any act of violence. I am not against consequences for choices people make, and I am not saying that everyone’s behavior is perfect. I do, however, make a distinction between the behavior of humans and their innate worth and value. Human behavior is often far from perfect and the imperfections can range from heinous crimes to more trivial failings. However, no matter where our behavior falls on this continuum, it doesn’t make one jot of difference to our true nature and the essence of who we are.
Rather than our behavior making us good or bad, our actions reflect our best understanding in any given moment. There are no inherently good people or bad people. And that is what I meant when I said, “you are not a fixer upper”. I really did mean that we are good enough exactly as we are independent of our behavior and circumstances. No one is any better than another person because of how they behave, and no one is any less than another because what they have done.
This became abundantly clear to me the first time I spent the weekend in prison as a volunteer for the Freedom to Choose Foundation. When I listened to the inmates lives and heard about the crimes they committed, I could see how their actions made sense to them at the time based on their distorted thinking. Their behavior matched how they saw the situation and the world in that moment. That doesn’t mean that they didn’t have remorse or regret afterwards, but at the time of the act that awareness was not available to them. I realized from hearing their stories that given the same circumstances and the same level of understanding I was capable of the same acts. I experienced the impact of the statement, “There but for the grace of God go I.”
The men experienced profound healing as they participated in the educational process. They were related to without judgment. They were communicated with human to human, and as the program unfolded it became clear — we are all the same. There is no better than. There is no worthy or unworthy. There are simply humans doing the best we can with the level of understanding we have.
We all have innate value independent of our behavior. Committing a crime does not reduce our value, but not knowing that makes us more likely to commit a crime. Our behavior does not define us. Our circumstances do not define us. Just as: I am Paris. I am Muslim. I am love. Also: I am terrorist. I am racist. I am murderer. As the Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn so astutely stated in his book The Gulag Archipelago:
“If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”
Rather than destroying any part of our hearts, my position is that through each one of us connecting more deeply with the natural state of who we are and experiencing the perfection of our formless nature, we are then better able to bring greater peace, love, and compassion to the planet. It is through recognizing and experiencing our innate wholeness that we can bring love to the pain and suffering in the world and find solutions to the challenges that confront us.
When we see through the eyes of compassion we recognize that no one is born a terrorist. No one is created as a murderer. No one is designed to be violent. We see that the unjust behaviors are rooted in fear, pain, and suffering. Our opportunity is to not add to the suffering with our own judgments and fear, but to gain altitude and walk in the footsteps of Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr, Malala Yousafzai, and the many other peacemakers who act from the wisdom in their hearts to make the world a better place.
Even though my behavior falls short from perfection, I am worthy. Even though other people’s behavior falls short from perfection, they are worthy, and it is meeting on this common ground that we can bridge the differences and overcome the fears that fuel the seeds of evil thoughts in each one of us. Let us all meet in Rumi’s field:
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase “each other” doesn’t make any sense.
Wishing you blessings of love, peace, joy, and abundance this Holiday Season! Looking forward to sharing more with you in the New Year!