By Gregg Sanderson
“I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.”—Thomas Jefferson
Jerry died last month.
We had been friends since the 1960s. He was at my birthday parties from the 40th on. A charming individual, he had a way about him that made him easy for his friends to like, but if it were anybody else, we’d say he had some strange character flaws.
He was big on sanctimony and he carried his “holier than thou” attitude into discussions. He’d often present his viewpoint after first insulting and ridiculing any individual who held a different one.
A master of the non sequitur, he’d answer an argument with a bumper sticker comment unrelated to the subject. I finally had enough and disconnected from him. Not exactly a loving response.
Remember the Twelfth Pathway from the Handbook to Higher Consciousness by Ken Keyes.
“I am perceiving everyone, including myself, as an awakening being who is here to claim his or her birthright to the higher consciousness planes of unconditional love and oneness.”
There are two main items to consider. “…an awakening being…” and “including myself.” Jerry was awakening, not fully awake to his own Spirituality and same goes for me. OMG! I’m not the perfect example of unconditional love 24/7.
Yet I can function within the limits my beliefs allow, which no longer included Jerry. He also was quite able to function without me, but we both were a little poorer for it.
The above quote by Thomas Jefferson is one of my favorites, and is my credo for friends who see things differently than I (almost all of ‘em). Once I posted it on Facebook and one commenter argued against it because Jefferson owned slaves.
How easy it is to slip into self-righteousness and miss the opportunity to expand our ability to love unconditionally. This is especially true when talking about politics, religion, and philosophy. We are often less concerned with what’s said than we are over who said it.
For example, a famous person once said, “This American system of ours, call it Americanism, call it Capitalism, call it what you will, gives each and every one of us a great opportunity if we only seize it with both hands and make the most of it.”
Notice how you react when I tell you the author was Ronald Reagan.
Would you have a different response if I were to tell you it’s Bill Gates?
Suppose Al Capone said it. He and his mob seized lots of opportunities during prohibition.
The statement is the same. Only our programmed beliefs cause us to react to it based on the author. In this case, it was Al Capone. Surprised?
Goodness knows, I share the prejudice. Often I’ll skip an article or comment because I disapprove of the source. My loss. If we follow the twelfth pathway. I don’t have to agree with you to love you. I just realize you’re on your path just as I am.
As a friend, of course I support your right to express your beliefs if they differ from mine. I also see myself “awakening,” so I don’t have to fight for my point of view. There could be something yet for me to learn.
This political year gives us a special opportunity to expand our ability to love. When we see or hear a different viewpoint, let’s pledge to focus on the content rather than the source—the message rather than the messenger. As the poet says:
“So I say to you, it’s all in point of view,
But maybe this can clear away the fog.
Next time that you see a dog that has a flea,
Think, “Maybe it’s the flea that has a dog.”
Gregg Sanderson is author of Spirit With A Smile, The World According To BOB. He is a licensed practitioner in the Centers for Spiritual Living, and a Certified Trainer for Infinite Possibilities. His earlier books were, What Ever Happened To Happily Ever After? and Split Happens—Easing The Pain Of Divorce. His latest project is the New Thought Global Network, where subscribers can enjoy the best in New Thought presentations from anywhere at any time. You can see it at www.newthoughtglobal.org.