6/18/11

self-righteousness is one of the last vehicles left for uninhibited hatred

We are becoming a world of black and white, rights and wrongs, where mistakes and imperfections are unforgivable. People who live in the public eye, for example, are treated with this wire-thin measure and when they inevitably fail, as all humans do, we crucify them, we pellet them with hard hatred. When I witness utter self-righteousness on the side of people who claim to be 'right' I am reminded of the Gandhi's famous quote, "We need to be the change we wish to see in the world" and wonder whether or not these same people would like this same type of treatment when they (and they inevitably will) make mistakes.

I am blessed to be married. In marriage you learn how to be soft, how to forgive, how to practice compassion daily, how to work with the other, and how to love both yourself and the other despite your imperfections. Yet, in order to have a marriage work, really work, one needs to abandon these essentially fundamentalist, black and white ways of looking at life and delve in the grey. Most married couples I know have recurring arguments about and around the same subjects that often come up again and again. The issue then becomes how does one address these recurring arguments once and for all so that the ugly interaction does not recur over and over? Assuming there is love in the marriage and real interest in its success coming from both sides, one then starts to examine the 'whys', the purpose, the 'behind the scenes' thought processes that led to these actions. Eventually, one discovers, to make things work, one must abandon the black and white ways of looking at life and live, breathe, exist in the grey. Understanding the other and developing understanding in ourselves then becomes the vehicle for forgiveness and compassion. I am more likely to forgive a person who hurt my feelings if I understand why it happened. Surprisingly, I have found, that more often than not a negative interaction is brought on by factors external to me.


Oprah is always talking about the evolution of the person and where people are on this continuum. I have come to believe that reaching this point in our lives where we start to abandon the hard self-righteousness, stop thinking in absolutes and soften our deeply held fundamentalist-style way, rates much higher on the proverbial human evolutionary scale. If there were a revolutionary scale, I am more than confident that softness, understanding, and compassion would be fairly high up there.

If you doubt that the world is getting harder and less compassionate. Look at these facts. The amount of money allocated for Clinton-Lewinsky investigation was $40 million, while the amount of money allocated for the 9/11 Commission was only $14 million. These facts tells me that in the 'modern' world we care more about sounding right and winning then actually doing right by people.

Anybody can say they are doing what they are doing for a righteous cause but it's in how they pave their solutions that one must look instead. When I meet someone with hard, unrelenting views and with forgiveness and compassion nowhere to be found, I get very wary. In fact, I most often walk away. No solutions that agrees with all stakeholders can come from hard, unrelenting, self-righteous people.

The most traumatizing movie I ever watched and that to this day still haunts me to the core is the movie, The Stoning of Soriya M. (it's on streaming video on Netflix). In the end of this movie you see a horrific, no bars held, stoning of an innocent mother of three you have come to respect and understand. Although this type of bloody justice is far from our modern reality in the US, we do as a society exact that same severity and intensity of 'justice' through our judgements. Our leaders, our celebrities, our politicians may not be literally stoned when they do wrong, but they are symbolically stoned with words, with judgements, with hatred.

I believe self-righteousness is close neighbors with hatred. I've come to experience these brutal forms of justice in my own personal world and have come to the conclusion that self-righteousness is one of the last vehicles left for uninhibited hatred. It's like watching those 'revenge movies" that begin with some child abduction that then makes all killings in the next two hours justified.

I am not buying it any more. I am staying clear of all forms of fundamentalism with their hard, relentless and cut-throat solutions that take us all in the wrong direction. Long lasting solutions can only come from conversations with the other, understanding of the other and compassion. From now on I will live, breathe and walk the change I wish to see in the world and I am choosing people for my circle who mirror back these softer qualities.

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