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Every morning, I engage in a ritual where I choose cards that have messages on them to set the tone for my day.
One tool is called Spiritual Sampler. I don’t remember where it came from, if it was a gift or something I felt called to get for myself. It had the perfect missive for this day after being in the throes of a storm of judgmental thoughts that swirled around me like a tornado.
“Make it a point of honor to remain at peace and attend to your own affairs.” ~ 1 Thes. 4:11
When I looked up the biblical quote, this followed. “Work with your hands as we directed you to do, so that you will give good example to outsiders and want for nothing.”
My own affairs are all that I can ultimately control, but it doesn’t stop this normal human inclination to want others to see the world the way I do, and take actions to reflect those stellar impulses. (This said sarcastically.)
As I am writing this, it is Yom Kippur, considered the holiest day in the Jewish religion. In previous years, I would attend services. This year, it is a DIY ritual that I will be conducting shortly. I am fasting until tonight, which is also part of the tradition. My relationship with food has been odd over the past 10 or so years, both as nourishment and self-medication. As I refrain from eating, I am noticing emotions showing up that I am addressing. I am allowing myself to be present with whatever thoughts arise. I am counting the hours. I am planning what I will eat. I then redirect my mind to more ethereal thoughts. I am grateful that, unlike some people in the world, I have a fridge and cabinets filled with goodies. A new share from the CSA arrived yesterday with corn, melons, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, greens, and a pumpkin. Some of those ingredients will go into dinner tonight.
My judgements arise about my food challenges. I have, at various times in my life, been itsy bitsy and fully rounded, more padded than I would like to be. I am in the second category now and am seeing today as a reset to get back to healthier eating—conscious rather than impulsive. I am doing my best to be self-compassionate rather than harshly judgmental about my body and how I treat it.
My external judgement of others fall into categories revolving around the state of the world.
>> The pandemic and the battle between those who see it as a hoax and those who know it is deadly serious.
>> The pandemic and the conflict between those who are fully vaccinated and mask up and those who are anti-vax and anti-mask.
>> The pandemic and the chasm between those in government who are in favor of mandates, which wouldn’t be necessary if people would be pro-social and those who adamantly oppose them as overreach and depriving them of their freedom to choose.
>> The pandemic and the gap between those who propose outrageous interventions like Ivermectin, even though it is not meant for human use, but refuse to take the COVID-19 vaccine because it is not FDA approved across the board. Do they know the ingredients of the food they eat? Do they know what toxic chemicals are in the cigarettes they may smoke?
>> The pandemic and those who peddle conspiracy theories.
>> The politicization of a virus that doesn’t give a sh*t what your politics are, what color your skin is, how old you are, where you live or how much money you earn.
>> I recently found out that someone I have known since childhood is in the hospital with a severe case of Covid. He is—wait for it—unvaccinated, based on his political views. I am hoping that he recovers and, when he can, he gets vaccinated.
>> The ongoing threat of the Big Lie that is seeping into all aspects of life. As we speak, there is an event planned for 9/18 in DC called “Justice for J6” to protest the arrest of many of the insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol on January 6th.
>> The terrifying news that General Mark Milley needed to step in and intervene with the increasing likelihood that the former president would, in his words, “go rogue” and potentially launch a nuclear attack. My judgement is aimed at those who were in a position to intervene sooner and didn’t.
>> The continuing loyalty of those who voted for him despite clear evidence that he incited an attack on our country—for which they would certainly be “up in arms” about if such violence was perpetrated by terrorists from other countries. In my area, bumper stickers, banners, flags, and signs proclaim their fealty. I have a hard time looking people in the eye in public without wondering which side of history they are on.
>> The ongoing debate about diversity education in the classroom.
>> The “adults” who heckled a teen at a school board meeting when he spoke about his grandmother who died of Covid.
>> The horrific actions of Larry Nassar, who abused over 300 children in his role as a doctor for—and all those who looked the other way and betrayed the survivors, including the FBI. I admire the courage of Aly Raisman, Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, and Maggie Nichols who testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
When I am face to face with my own harshly critical persona who believes that if I ruled the world, things would be infinitely improved, I need to take a step back and consider how I can be of service.
I attempt to understand the source of people’s choices and why they commit acts of violence or hold hateful attitudes. I contemplate that if I lived their lives, I might make the same decisions that they did. When talking to kindred spirits about the state of the world, we acknowledge that those on the other side of the aisle feel just as passionate about their beliefs as we do about ours, and they think that ours are as inappropriate or dangerous as we think theirs are.
When I encounter people who defend their choices, I attempt to find common ground. If someone minimizes or denies the climate crisis, I point out that we all want a healthy and safe environment for the next generations. If someone has a “boys will be boys” attitude, I ask if they would want a woman in their lives to be treated disrespectfully. If someone calls Covid a hoax, I ask if they know someone who has contracted it or even died from it. If they object to diversity education, I ask them to put themselves in the place of someone marginalized by the current educational system. If they claim to be Christian, yet express anti-Semitic attitudes, I remind them that Jesus was a nice Jewish boy.
I know that judging won’t change anyone’s behavior, but it does catalyze my positive actions that may open minds. One definition of the word is “the ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions.”
May we as a planet learn to do that. Our lives depend on it.