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If we don’t understand something, our tendency is to ignore it and take it for granted. For example, there are many features on modern cars that people simply don’t understand and therefore never realize their benefits.
If that thing we don’t understand is an aspect of humanity which is very different than our own experience, then we, in like manner try and ignore it and go on with life. If that aspect of humanity cannot be ignored, then we will fear and criticize it and seek community among those more similar to us.
The notion of human rights exist because there is so much diversity between the seven billion of us that live today. Yet despite all our differences, we acknowledge on a fundamental level, that we have far more in common with each other than any other living beings. We watch a family doing “family things” in a distant culture and we can see our family doing similar things. We can relate or (see ourselves in others) when we want to.
When the world tries to bring people together it always makes the same huge mistake; it works toward uniformity and not unity. It always assumes unity equals agreement. This understanding of agreement tries to diminish diversity. I live in peace and unity with my wife and kids even if we don’t always agree. It’s easy to see how uniting people goes off the rails if we are seeking “agreement.” However, if we are to function in unity together, there needs to be a shared set of rules that we all must uphold despite our differences. No military, school or business could function apart from such rules. Families don’t either. However, the rules are always written by those in power and usually end up serving those in power. This is visible in every organization on earth, starting with each of our own families.
Every organization of power began as the unknown, outsider without power. By unifying and organizing, the powerless gain power. In order for that organization to gain and maintain power, it too creates a set of rules that it places on its constituents. If we want a share of this institutional power, we must follow the rules and conform. And now we are back to uniformity rather than genuine unity. Sameness rather than diversity.
Conformity is confused with agreement. Agreement is confused with unity. It’s a small step to conclude that conformity equals unity without diversity. Us versus them is every organization’s primary product.
While this reality is playing out in our present world through the civil rights movement of “Black Lives Matter,” this new series is not specifically about this issue, though it clearly is written between the lines. This series is designed to help us see institutional evil for what (or who) it is and what the ultimate solution actually is to the problem. Institutions and organizations are important parts of society and I’m not espousing an anti-establishment ethos. My goal is to let wisdom illuminate how evil infiltrates institutions and erodes our humanity along with how to navigate our many institutions without losing our true self.
Rather than use civil rights to showcase the dynamic, I am going to use a subject that also polarizes people, ignites fear, and for most moderns, produces a boat load of apathy: Religion.
Remember, if we don’t understand something, we dismiss it and label it irrelevant, just like that button on our car for which we’ve never learned its purpose. What is more irrelevant in the minds of modern people than religion? Sure, some people respect it for its tradition. In fact, most subscribers to religion only have a nominal belief in their faith, and compliantly go through the motions, rituals, and behaviors solely because of tradition.
“this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men” (Isaiah 29:13)
Because I’ve studied world religion and human transformation for over three decades, I believe I can offer a perspective that is mostly missing from our modern world. Furthermore, because I’ve taken the time understand and learn from other traditions, I can teach you from a place of not being afraid and how we came to be so fearful in the first place.
Since our world is raw and engaged in the discussions of equality, tribalism and institutional power, I believe now is the time to expand our view. It’s too easy to focus only on the issue of race. Yes, it’s an important and necessary conversation, but its still too small. We must be mindful of every other sub-group that our “bunkers of likeness” use to subdivide the world. While each has it’s place to help us understand more about each other, each one brings fourth a pernicious trap which is the source of all the pain and suffering, rather than it’s unique gift to the world. Then we all miss out.
In the end, we all seek to be accepted for who we really are. The problem is that most of us think we are the label given to us by our favorite institution. We think we are our fake ID.
There remains one amazing fix to this whole, ongoing problem. This “solution” is an obvious alternative which alters the course of all human history. This “new way” of living is still a “new way” because so few have truly understood it. This solution is perfect and it has been percolating through the minds and hearts of all human history and appears so vividly within spiritual traditions, yet each of them has inadvertently been snared by this seemingly unavoidable trap.
What is this thing, or teaching, or practice that finally allows both unity and diversity to be fully expressed and coexist within the same moment? Once this comes into view, how do we avoid the pitfalls and quicksand that has claimed so many organizations before us?
I will reveal all of this in the coming weeks. For now, all I ask is that you keep an open mind. Please be mindful that we each bring a set of assumptions, fears, judgements and biases to this discussion. All comers must not abandon them, but be aware of them and be willing to replace them with wider aspects of the truth.
If we can catch our own reactions, and resistances to this process, then we can become a very diverse community that embodies a power that can actually save and restore this world. Yes, catching our own bias, can start a chain reaction which can redeem every corrupt government, undo every system of oppression, liberate every tribe, nation, tongue and allow each and every soul to finally be and live authentically as who we are created to be.
May we all join in this discovery and regain the footing and foundation of our lives.
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