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July 18, 2014
Believing Nonsense – ©2002 Gail Pursell Elliott
My mother and my aunt were sitting together in church one Sunday morning. They were 8 and 6 years old, respectively. Their minister was in the midst of delivering a forceful sermon of the fire and brimstone variety, when my mother leaned over and whispered to her sister, “He’s yelling at you!” My aunt immediately burst into tears. Later my grandmother, who had an unpolished but keen sense of justice, punished them both. Mom was punished for tormenting her sister. My poor, wounded aunt got it for “believing nonsense.”
It would be interesting if every time we took something personally that we shouldn’t have, we would be punished somehow or reprimanded for “believing nonsense.” We’d quickly learn to take another look and be a bit more discerning before reacting to situations. Actually, we are regularly reprimanded when we take things personally. Often we feel like we’ve been slapped. We become indignant and blame our tormentor, never realizing that the tormentor really is us. Like most tough lessons in life, we wind up having to do this one over and over until we learn.
Mystics tell us that we are all connected to each other as well as the rest of creation. If we were completely aware that we are irrevocably connected to everything and everyone around us, we wouldn’t take anything personally either for it would be an exercise in taking offense to oneself. We would be our own adversary. It is the conflict between the appearance of separation and the sense of connection that causes us to react. Unresolved conflict can be pretty irritating, and for most of us, the more irritable we feel, the more reactive we become.
Sine most of us are caught up in this conflict, however unconscious, we have to make a conscious decision and effort to not take things personally. We can do this by becoming aware that our fellow travelers, caught up in the same conflict, are much more involved with themselves than they are with us. Trying to make sense of the same feelings of isolation and need for connection that we are.
There was an old game show my grandmother enjoyed watching called “Truth or Consequences.” When we take time to become more discerning, to look for the truth so that we can respond rather than react, we can avoid the consequences of believing nonsense.
Be good to yourself and to those you encounter. You all deserve it!
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