Generalizations are Generally Wrong

I will make one generalization here:  The black people I know personally here in Upstate South Carolina, amazingly do not seem to alter their sense of self-worth in response to how they are treated.  I have been in the company of black people when they were dismissed, ignored, and summarily rejected for no reason other than their color.  That, to me, reflects a deep sense of true worth, likely stemming from their intimacy with God.  Those of us who have not known the extent of oppression and animosity that they have known, would do well to learn from them.

I am re-posting this because …well, I think it is worth re-stating.

I think it is safe to say that, for the most part, generalizations are wrong.  Now, notice I said “for the most part;” that is intentional because whenever I fail to include phrases like “for the most part,” “usually,” “some,” “almost always,” etc., I almost always make a fool of myself.

When people are in a hurry to make a point, they often use generalizations; politicians and others with agendas, do this a lot.  But, usually, what they say is inaccurate, if not flat out wrong, and usually mean-spirited.  For example, if I were to say “all Pit Bulls are mean and dangerous,” I know at least three people who would straighten me out.  I might be better off by saying something like,”all Pit Bulls have the potential to be mean and dangerous, especially if they have been mistreated or trained to be that way,” but I have used 7 words in the first statement and 23 in the second; too many words for a politician or a mother whose child has been mauled by a Pit Bull.

Now, to be fair, some generalizations are true, particularly when they are simply restating the subject or are simplifying the definition: All pine trees are trees; All black cats are cats, All white people are people, All General Motors cars are cars, etc.  (My son could probably argue with that last point but I’ll leave that up to him.)

Sometimes, what you may think is a re-statement of the subject is, in fact, a fallacy  (“a mistaken belief, especially one based on unsound argument,” a definition provided by Google.)  For example, a lot of people think Christians are automatically followers of Jesus; Not so.  One can be a Christian and not be a follower of Jesus just as one can follow Jesus but not be a Christian.  There are similar misconceptions about Christians being ‘nice’ people, or ‘church people’ being ‘good people;’  I daresay, a large percentage of them are but I have also been told that, “Church people can be some of the meanest people in the world.”  Notice, that observer included the words “can be” rather than ‘always are.’

It is not nice to make untrue generalizations about people; remember, God don’t like ugly. In fact, it is downright dangerous in an eternal sense, because number 9 of the Ten Commandments, says:

9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

I don’t think I need to enlighten you that “your neighbor” means ‘everybody else but you;’  That includes people of your own race, as well as all people of all other races.  Now, before you hit the reply button I want to include what Ask.com says about races:

“Although all races share over 99% of the same genetic material, the classification and division of races is largely subjective, and all races belong to the same species – Homo sapiens. Scientifically, races are defined as a group of people that are separated and grouped together due to the fact that they have common inherited traits that distinguishes them from other groups.

“The notion of race is also divided based on geographic separation, social and cultural differences and distinguished physical differences. Human typologies are commonly differentiated based on the following physical axes:

    • skin color
    • hair texture
    • jaw size
    • facial angle
    • cranial capacity
    • frontal lobe mass
    • brain mass
    • brain surface fissures
    • body lice

“These physical attributes do not necessarily have a strong correlation with genetic variations. As a result, the United Nations has opted to drop the term “race” and replace it with “ethnic groups” instead. According to a 1998 study published in the Scientific American, there are more than 5,000 ethnic groups in the world.”

(body lice?)

That’s a lot of people who are different from each other.  However, they are ALL “your neighbor.”  If you don’t believe me, ask God.

Like I said before, people with agendas like to make generalizations about people who are different from them…politicians, especially, because they are short on time…or short on something.  For example, when he said that,

“When Mexico (meaning the Mexican Government) sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you (pointing to the audience). They’re not sending you (pointing again). They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems to us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.  And some, I assume, are good people!”

…at least Donald qualified that SOME are good people.  That’s what I am suggesting; we should avoid making generalizations by including qualifiers, like “some.”

(I would like to add, Donald, that if those are SOME of your “best words,” dear, I suggest you consider taking a vow of silence.)

Unfortunately, I grew up hearing a lot of non-qualified generalizations…particularly about black people, but also about Jewish people, as well as Asians and Native Americans.  I recall hearing the explanation that”all black people are bad; that’s why God made them black.”  (What?!?)  First of all, I never understood what was meant by “bad.” Were they bad drivers?  bad spellers?  I don’t think that’s what was meant.  I think it meant that they were inherently dishonest, corrupt, and dangerous.    And, he was wrong, incorrect, inaccurate, and, to be fair, probably spoke out of fear.

Before I go any farther, I have never known, personally, a black person who was ‘bad.’  The black people I have known personally, from the time I was a child to the present, and I mean people I have known well…people I worked with for 22 years on a daily basis, for example…have been kind, generous, polite, friendly, helpful, honest, trustworthy, decent, not dangerous…all those descriptions I use when referring to people who are ‘good.’  I met one young black man in the hospital last year whom I would not trust, but I did not know him well, and based on his words and actions, I don’t think anyone would trust him.  Black people I meet on a daily basis down here in Anderson, South Carolina, have been … without exception … gracious, polite, courteous, and when I pass on information about my writing, they usually say, “Thank you, ma’am.,” which to me shows good manners and up-bringing.  Furthermore, when I open a conversation about faith, Christ, or spirituality, there is immediate affirmation; Black people ‘get it.’ They KNOW God which tells me a great deal about the purpose of hard times on this earth.

Thanks be to God and to God be the Glory.

All I Need to Do is Show Up (Reprise)

Well, this is fate! …What do they call it when everything intersects?”   “The Bermuda Triangle.”  (wonderful lines written by the late Nora Ephron and spoken by Jay and Sam in the movie, Sleepless in Seattle)

A favorite fellow blogger wrote recently about letting God be God.  I responded that she was absolutely right and that all I needed to do was show up.  (I keep stealing her best words.  Sorry, Donald, I don’t think you do have the best words, but I won’t get into that now.)

While I was in North Carolina, recently, I encountered several people who already had their ‘dukes up’ when I entered the room:  sales clerks, buyer’s agents, and even a beloved friend.  Driving home with the top down on my little blue wonder car, I felt like I was “getting the hell out of Dodge.”  As I breathed deep and emptied my mind of the bits of discordant conversations, the scripture words “shake the dust off your feet,” came to mind.

Now, I am aware of the potential punishment due one who alters or disagrees with scripture, but when I look at the whole text,

If the house is worthy, give it your blessing of peace. But if it is not worthy, take back your blessing of peace. Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet. Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city…

…I am disturbed.  These words are from the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus sends out the twelve apostles “with the following instructions: ‘Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.’”  Now, maybe it is because they are to try to reach out to the Jews; but this does not sound like the Jesus I know.  I am reminded of the parable of the shepherd who goes out looking for the one lost sheep.  Jesus does not tell me to judge someone as “not worthy” and therefore to “take back my blessing of peace.”  Sure, there are swine who are not going to appreciate pearls but convincing them, much less judging them as unworthy, just isn’t my job.  Let me explain what I mean…

In the verse, “Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet,” I see that as wisdom for my psychological health.  In a previous essay, I wrote about the techniques used to keep oneself safe when attempting to help others; I wrote about how healing ministers have a special prayer they pray to cleanse themselves of residual attachment to the pain, evil spirits, or even pride in having helped Jesus to heal someone.

However, I believe the process of acting as ambassadors for Christ does not end just because I have not been well-received; God’s work is far from over.  If I give to someone a blessing of peace, I have planted a seed or embedded a grain of sand.  I may walk away, but circumstances outside of my knowledge can, and likely will, cause that seed to germinate and, maybe years from now, will grow into belief and faith.  I think of the seeds in the desert that lie dormant until the rains come.  The image at the top of this essay was published in October 2015, in the Daily Mail .  The picture is of the Atacama desert in Chile, “the worlds driest desert,” in late spring after heavy storms took place in March.  In the words of the writer, “a magical transformation brings the area to life.”

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-3294865/Blooming-marvellous-rain-falls-world-s-driest-desert-jaw-dropping-phenomenon-takes-place-year-s-display-spectacular-18-years.html#ixzz42z6FNd6z

Atacama desert dry

This image above may be what I encounter on a daily basis, but my blessings are like a seed tossed out into that sand.  Sure, I will shake the dust from my feet because I do not want to dwell on the rejection or seeming lack of acceptance of God’s love, but my job is done.  Now, it is up to God…who will be God.

I would like to add that sometimes I am met with true rancor; I usually have no idea what is the reason behind it or the source of it, but I can bet I have touched on something that needs God’s healing touch.  Again, it is usually none of my business and, therefore, it is not my job to try to fix it.  Furthermore, in cases such as that, I have likely planted a grain of sand that, God willing, will irritate the hearer until a pearl of wisdom is formed…but this can take years, just like within an oyster; I don’t need to see it happen.  I believe and have faith; I move on.  What happens over time is God business.

A young blogger recently indicated that he was concerned about the state of the salvation of his friends as they were facing college; my advice to him was to remember that their souls were in God’s hands and that his job was to love them, be kind to them, be there to answer questions, but to try to not judge or criticize them; God is not done with them and paths of their lives will be as diverse as the flowers of the world.

This same blogger, only weeks before, had expressed dismay over his own doubts and waverings of faith.  When I replied with some of my personal experiences and with teachings and practices that have helped me, he responded with much self-righteous criticism and condemnation; he said some of my beliefs and practices were”Satanic.”  Before I lashed out in self-defense, I had to remind myself that he is probably no more than 20 years old and, certainly, God is not done with him, yet, either.  However, it would be prudent for me to give the topics mentioned in his attacks at least a cursory look… Balaam’s ass and all that.

When something like that niggles my soul, I am wise to reflect on the situation.  I am not exempt from receiving seeds and sand from others who are unknowingly (or knowingly) acting on behalf of God.  My beloved friend’s screaming at me that “Now, you’re just being contrary!” has merit; I am by no means a saint.  I can be contrary.  I can be mean-spirited.  How do you think I recognize so well the mean-spirited ways of others ?!?  I can only thank God, and my friends and family, that there are such things as forgiveness and understanding.

The point I started out with is simply this: my job is to show up.  Jesus is not physically here to plant seeds and sand; I am.  I am not equipped, or emotionally or spiritually healthy enough, to give appropriate correction to others.  However, I can obey Jesus’ commandments to love God and to love my neighbor.  The only way I know how to love my neighbor is to show up, be kind to them, to set a good example of what ‘love of God and neighbor’ look like, to not judge or criticize them, to allow them to be where they are spiritually, and to forgive them and have faith that God is not done with them, yet.

Addendum:  As I learn more about the Law of Three, it occurs to me that as I ‘show up’ with seeds and sand, I may, in fact, be acting as Third Force…just a thought.

To God be the Glory

 

 

It’s all good

“45% of GOP voters believe God helped Trump get elected”

God helps me write. God helps me progress on my spiritual path. God helped Joseph’s brothers get him to Egypt.

I write from where I am spiritually to other people where they are spiritually. I have a ways to go; we all do.

President Trump’s actions and statements are jolting people from despondency and complacency. That’s good.

President Trump’s actions and statements are prompting people on spiritual paths to ramp up their practices. That’s good.

President Trump’s actions and statements are encouraging people to pray. That’s good.

President Trump’s actions and statements are causing people to think things through, to consider the consequences of their actions and comments, to consider who is ‘us’ and who is ‘them.’

“What you meant for harm, God means for good.”

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

That’s from Genesis.

Jesus said that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.

Open your ears.

 

 

Hope…in Motion

I see the outcome of the presidential election as a good thing and this is why:

For a long time, many people…including the ‘silent majority’…have been quietly despairing.  The government was seemingly ignorant of their struggles or unwilling to address their needs, which is what a government is intended to do.  Large chunks of the citizenry were not part of the policy equation.  These people had given up hope of ever mattering again.

Donald Trump’s message of “Make America Great Again” included their struggles and needs.  Rather than ignore the elections, as they often have in the past, they mustered their hope and went to the polls exuberantly.

The hearts and spirits of these people are vulnerable and lie exposed in Donald Trump’s hands.

I believe that whether or not these people’s lives are improved by changes in government or policy lies in who Trump surrounds himself with and listens to…his advisors.  Trump is not known to listen to advisors and Trump is used to people being Trump fodder.

Regardless, these people’s hopes have been enlivened; their heads are raised and they are looking for help.  If it does not come from changes in government or policy, they will look elsewhere.

After Hurricane Hugo, I was pregnant and not able to clear brush and debris so I offered to help address the emotional needs of the children whose lives were devastated.  I consulted a psychologist who specialized in trauma and disaster recovery.  His answer was simple: to the extend that the family ties were healthy and functional, the families will survive.  The families in despair, however, will turn to things that promise some form of control like drugs, witchcraft, guns, hate-based organizations, even evangelistic preachers.

The disheartened people of this country have their hopes up now.  If they are disappointed or mistreated by hurricane Trump, it is likely they will turn elsewhere for a solution.

I am not close-minded and welcome wise action from a new administration.  However, my hope does not lie in the presidency nor in the Congress, Supreme Court, or bureaucracy.   My hope does not even lie in a church.  My hope lies in my own connection with God.

My hope is that if the hopes of these people do not find purchase in the new administration, that they turn their eyes to the only true hope…the only trustworthy source of help and relief.