21 September 2008


I got really annoyed with someone yesterday. Fortunately I had a chance to reflect a bit afterwards, and I got to thinking about standards. I was wondering whether everyone has a list – an unconscious list of all the things "a person just shouldn't do." A lot of things on the list have to do with sharing space, which is why living communally can be so difficult. Items on the list also include prohibitions to do with time, hospitality, ethics, work, friendships.

What's one of the items on your list?

The world hosts all kinds of people, including people who aren't going to be able to contribute much, including people who not only aren't going to contribute much, but who may only bring their own needs to a situation. People who might even criticize you for what you are contributing, or for not going out of your way to meet their needs. The world includes all kinds of people, who are 'created equal' in a certain sense. But being equal refers to rights, or even potential, but it doesn't mean everyone can contribute equally to a situation. They cannot. Some people will give, some people will take, some people won't do much of anything. Confusion about what's fair and what's right gets mixed up with this basic situation, that the world includes all kinds of people.

So, the list of how people should be has to be overcome. It is too narrow for us. Believing the list is like not having good eyesight and walking around without glasses bumping into things, some of which are spiky. If we put on our glasses we see that things aren’t attacking us. It’s that we are attached to them; our standards pull them them toward us like a magnet, to switch metaphors. This is why we cultivate kindness, to stop punishing ourselves. When we practice kindness and tolerance we desist from picking up the proverbial hot coal with our bare hand. In this virtual metaphor smorgasbord, I say, finally, that to do this - to cultivate tolerance and love - is a lot of work, and is the final frontier.

(image from flickr by screenname mike o'c)

1 comment:

lauramarie said...

I agree that we all have "shoulds" and "shouldn'ts" list that we are not aware of. I try to be aware of this and how I try to limit them. If you find yourself thinking about a situation with a word "should" or "should not" in it, you are judging someone and applying your beliefs to someone elses life.

A simple example is that if you see some speeding and you think, "They shouldn't speed", what you might channel that into is, "that driver is being unsafe. i am going to get out of the way. or, "that scares me", or whatever".

What "they" do isn't up to you. Simple as that.


Site Meter