Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Convictions & Controversy. Being "Right" Comes at a Relational Cost.

"About controversies in families- I think that there are some people who will not be able to understand or see different perspectives and are blinded by their own convictions...it is OK until that person forces their convictions on others...then it becomes a painful relationship. Not only about faith. It is also about simple things like tea and coffee..if somebody irritates me repeatedly, with my drinking choice saying," I wish you drank chocolate flavoured coffee rather than mint flavoured coffee..." That too is so irritating to the point of conversation not going anywhere beyond what one thinks is right. Do you know that in some religions, there is no concept of heaven? They say hell and heaven is right there on this earth and both of them are created by humans? It is through our actions that we can create hell or heaven on this earth... the concept of heaven is not something up there high above the sky...it is here..when somebody sets somebody free, that person is creating heaven on earth. Whereas, when somebody dominates others and irritates others even after repeated requests not to...he is creating hell on earth. I mean not to offend but I want to say that before reaching the spatial/physical heaven or hell, (covered by heavenly clouds or hellish dirt) we must understand how these mystical concepts of hell and heaven work in our daily lives right from our birth. Both hell and heaven is in our soul to be reached or rejected here and now. They are not a distant place out of our reach ...no planning or programming will make you reach there, not even prayers...until you free yourself from your own suffering on this earth."- Sanghamitra

Painful relationships are tough because there comes a point when the relationship may exceed it's worth because of the pain caused. It is hard for both the cause of the pain and the victim of the pain. Often there is a mix of this pain from a perspective stand point. The one who is causing the pain for the victim may view it otherwise and vice versa. One has to ask themselves- Am I costing myself heaven on earth in my relationships by a holy vendetta? Is my belief in what is right setting myself up as a mini god in the sense that I am deciding what choices others should have and pressuring those choices at each turn of the conversation?

Of course each of us have convictions, beliefs of what we value, and there are times when we know or think we are in the "right." That is human behaviour and normal but as Sanghamitra pointed out, we can take our convictions too far.
Even if one believes in heaven and hell or an afterlife, should they not also carry that belief into their daily? Should they not start with creating safe places and pockets of heaven where there is no judgement on earth if that belief holds true? Should they not strive to make suffering less here and now BECAUSE of their belief in an eternal lake of fire later? It starts with the little moments. The moments where conviction over runs the relationship. When one is casually talking about life and then BAM- the pressure is on for them to conform to some standard of religion, worship, eating habit ect.
Convictions are normal, but taking them into every conversation or daily relationship comes at a cost. Of course we can speak of them on our personal spaces, in writing, or where people are safe to us...the difference is the platform of relationship. If the relationship is based on previous moments of safety, past experiences of trusting communication, developed emotion and depth with the little topics, then that relationship can take the controversy- even if both are on opposing sides. The love of the other, respect and dignity, will win over the actual topic. However, if the relationship is weaker, non developed in trust or understanding and has past wounds, being "right" comes at a cost. The cost of having deep or meaningful relationships here on earth.

It is ironic how often the people who believe in the afterlife of heaven and hell, are also willing, because of their beliefs, to make earth a living hell for those that don't... by isolating them, or punishing the "wayward sheep." Even worse, is the fact that those who may be fundamentalist about it, believe in their "right path" so deeply that they are willing to isolate their family for the sake of a possibility after. They are willing to lose a here and now relationship for the possibility of an eternal one later. And if what they say is "right" then not only will they not see this person ever again after death (and in their belief this person will burn in eternal damnation) but they are also not interacting with them and have already created a line in the dirt of "us" and "them" on this earth. The time given is used for testimony, for convicting, for consistently using each conversation as a tool to bring the "nonbeliever" around.

The definition of faith is that it cannot be provable. In school I was taught to argue my faith by scripture. Scripture that ironically would have no hold on an unbeliever. But that is not faith. Faith requires complete trust in something that is unprovable. And if one is willing to stake all of their current relationships and what they already have on the cost of something unprovable that is their choice. It can be respected, but please note that the choice is deeply personal and should not be expected from others in the path. Just like food choices should not be forced upon people with differing guts, allergies, sensitivities and body make up. We all have differing factors that make us whom we are. We have the right as human beings to make choices. We have the beauty to come to differing forms of faith. Faith alone can be a beautiful choice. However, when that faith is used as the "only right way" it is no longer faith but something akin to a communist faith manifesto...believing that all should conform to the one way of faith and enforcing this with social sanctions, threats of eternal damnation and torture, and isolation.

This unfortunately often bleeds into more than faith. When one believes one is undoubtedly "right" in faith, sometimes other topics follow. Politics are often the next big "given" and themes trickle down to the Splenda in coffee. Suddenly, one can not feel safe to speak because each conversation becomes an exercise of black and white thinking. Someone gives an opinion and suddenly it is perceived as an attack.

This is the difference between conversing in a safe relationship and conversing in the "rightly convicted" relationship. In the safe relationship, someone can say that splenda is disgusting without being judged as a shit stirrer. They can bring up their personal choices of diet without someone misinterpreting it as a judgement on themselves. Because if one believes in the spirit of choice, they automatically know that most people's choices are not a reflection of themselves. There is a clear boundary of where someone else begins. Thus there is respect, dignity and honesty. However, when dealing with someone who often brings up convictions, being right, and strong moral standpoints, there are not many safe topics to explore unless one belongs to their group. Which is why churches and bible studies ect. often have similar people attending with similar interests. They are validating their own convictions. Which is fine to a point, as long as that is what is recognized and when in relationship with others they do not engage in "othering."

We have friends in our circle who are fundamentalists. It is possible to have good relationships with fundamentalists of any belief. While I would say there are definite topics that are safer left alone- at least we have the respect to do so. Sometimes the conversation becomes strained because of personal belief differences, but then we both sense it, laugh a bit and decide to put the relationship before the issues. We both agree to disagree and move on to healthier topics. Topics that our relationship can carry the weight of are the go to. That is the beauty of discourse, of diversity, and of dignity.

We have had relationships with people who believe the same as the fundamentalists above, yet the foundation of the relationship was not built. Instead the relationship had a history of disrespect, proselytizing, and converting to like minded states. It's the same belief but it comes at a very different cost. The cost is the relationship itself. A house can not be built on sand that sifts and changes according to the topic, or takes offence to each minor difference or has to argue for arguments sake. There are appropriate places for that but they have to be on concrete foundations.

I do take issue with the christian doctrine itself that I will not go into here, for many reasons. Bertrand Russel and other philosophers cover that area better than I. Plus, it's really not my cup of tea to discuss much of it outside of my home. I prefer peace and harmony. I don't want readers thinking that I am being dishonest in my portrayal of myself. However, I LOVE and respect MANY christians in my life. Every belief in what is "right" comes at a cost. I don't believe I am right. Of course I have convictions and normal human direction but I like to leave the benefit of doubt in all my considerations. Of honouring the question more than the statement. Maybe the cost of being "right" is worth it to some? I was taught in christian school that anything "against" us was persecution and to "consider persecution pure joy." Perhaps my post will just further solidify that stance to anyone in it? If so, my words are not for that person whom has the choice to shut down their browser. If one is aware their cost of being right is their relationships - that is their choice to make.

My words are for those who are wondering what went wrong down the road. How did they find themselves in an empty relationship with nothing but traces of disrespect, disregard and a history of pain? Perhaps the ownership is on both parties. The foundation needs to be built before the safe house. The safe house needs to be built before going on to the roof to speak of the heavens.

If there is a loving God, would that spirit not want us to free suffering on earth? Jesus spoke many times in the scriptures (that so many christians adhere to) about the fact that the kingdom of heaven is HERE now. It applied wherever Jesus was, where love was, as Jesus was said to embody love. Now whether or not I believe in the literal translation of scriptures is a moot point....but if one does, would it not require another look into what is asked of those who believe? There are mixed messages in the bible..brother against brother to turning the other cheek. I guess if the cost of the belief is brother against brother, for the family it has to be worth it. And that would be why the drive to convict the "other brother" would be high on the list of family priorities. Because it follows that peace would reign once again not only on earth but in heaven meetings according to the familial belief. But if that is the cost- one must then decide to live with that cost here on earth. And live with the cost that may come from the brother choosing differently. It is impossible to have both the brotherly relationship and the "right" god/eternal damnation/ relationship if one believes that way and the brother does not. Because it is a clear separation of someone who believes they are "right" versus the "wrong." Which will it be on earth? Or is there a way to come around to grey area thinking? To respect the "brother" and love the other as one loves self while still holding to personal faith and not treating them less in each conversation with the inevitable righteousness that comes with being "right"? Because with righteousness above another there can be no equality, and no respect or trust...which are a few of the six ingredients required for actual love relationships. Love is somewhat skewed without those ingredients. How can we say we truly love if we do not give respect for others decisions? When respect is neglected because of our convictions? When trust is not given or taken because there is no basis for it? How does love grow in these places?

If one loves oneself, we do not subject ourselves to violence, belief or flagellation- spiritual or otherwise. If we are still participating in these behaviours to ourselves we can not possibly love "the other" we are called to love. God covers all in grace- that is what is said of those who chose the christian God. But who decides that? Who gets to be God on earth? Simply because of belief in scriptures suddenly there are God ambassadors- but that is a serious job with serious ethics to consider that often are neglected in the name of "being right."

In the end, I just wish that my education and the education of others who are emerged in religion and religious education, would have included these questions. I wish they would have talked about more than the cost of faith but the cost of what IS now. I wish they would have balanced their opinions out with philosophers who were agnostic and atheistic. Not as an example of evil but as an example of differences to be respected and considered. Those topics would have helped those who still chose faith, stronger in their stances, because they would have heard legitimate, intelligent fact based opinions from another side to counter act their legitimate, intelligent fact based opinions. Because we all have them. Legitimacy is in perspective. Facts can come from many places. I wish I would have learned history that wasn't just christian history. The Pharaohs were actually quite benevolent and began by PAYING their local farmers to build the pyramids. They were not just evil overlords, like I was taught with pictographs in sunday school, with hearts hardened by God. I wish I would have been taught history, philosophy, psychology and sociology from unbiased standpoints. I wish my essence would have been respected enough to allow me to look at all, and make my own way without manipulation. No wonder there is so much fear around the liberal arts topics, social sciences, science and secular post secondary schools in these circles. Because that brings choice. Luckily, these factors came fleetingly through the rebels and outcasts I knew, balanced faith bringers, music, arts, aunts... and the rest followed in my later twenties for my journey. It is with great relief and joy that I reflect on those that DID.

I grieve. I grieve the cost that some are too blind in being "right" to see. I grieve that in some circles the weather has to be another notch in the belt of a provable God. I grieve that the obsession of hell and heaven after death become the vendetta to sometimes do unspeakable acts on earth. I grieve that freedom or choices have become synonymous with sin. I grieve for what was lost.

Yet, hope can be found in the darkest of places. In this dark grieving, I have also found surprising people, who while they hold fast to their god, and disagree with most of my life, find joy and love within. I have found heaven on earth. This heaven is in a kind word, in mercy, in grace, in becoming, in choice, in freedom and in love. Love has too many numerous definitions. I have found that by defining terms we can come to understanding. I enjoy Bell Hooks definition of love, "Love is a combination of six ingredients: care, commitment, knowledge, responsibility, respect and trust. I found that a lot of people just felt really confused about what love is, so I said, here, take these six ingredients and as you go about your life, you can ask: the action I'm taking, does it have these six ingredients? One point that I would emphasize to people is that it's the combination of the six ingredients that make love, because so many of us have one of the ingredients in our life – like we may be deeply cared for, but we may not be in a situation of trust. To me what's great about these definitions is that they're just very helpful for people in daily life trying to engage in a practice of love."
When I take that definition of love, and apply it to our lives, safety matters. It is important that we can trust that when we are in a conversation we will not be pressured to conform to another's standards of what is "right." That we will not be evangelized at every turn. That combination is the concrete foundation of a home. Until we each take responsibility for our six ingredients of love in our important relationships we have to be ok with surface level or distant regard. It's not wrong, it's simply what IS until something stronger can grow from the sand. Sometimes the energy or time is not there to build a foundation. Relationships ebb and flow. That is the cost of life. But the cost of being right for the sake of being right is unnatural. It can be addressed if that is the only issue.
The love of the other is important. So is the love of self. There has to be a balance of both. In order to respect and love we must respect and love ourselves first. But then we must act upon that which is. Building small safe havens in the relationships in our path. Some are meant for challenge, some are meant for growth, some are meant for ultimate, unconditional love and some are meant for havens. But none should be meant solely for the convictions of being right and perhaps by saying that I am engaging in black and white thinking? Maybe some convictions of being right have done the world a lot of good? I believe some have, but when thinking upon it more, the damage done in the same name exceeds the good...so perhaps we each have to face our own choices. I need to face mine. While I leave my writing here to question, hash it out and state aspects of my self, I firmly believe the reader has the right to their own interpretation applied to their own growth state. What the reader chooses, and the emotions they choose and their perceptions is entirely their choice to make- even if I may disagree. I need to let go of outcomes and go forth into life, now that I have cleared the cobwebs of my mind by writing.

May you, the reader, have relationships that are not on sand, or at least one or two relationships in life, that have the six ingredients of love. In that I am rich for I have at least a handful- I wish you this richness too. May you let go of those that do not have that aspect or keep them in life for later growth. May you find hope in dark places and heal from previous wounds of the convictions of "right" thinking. May you honour your need for healing and pain, but also move through to the wonders each day has the possibility of presenting. May you savour your drink and delight in your nourishment of body, spirit and soul.

This post is dedicated to my husband on his birthday week, honouring the many conversations we have had on this topic, the deep grief, and the wonder that we share together. Love you and your 33 years. xo

Also, thank you Sanghamitra for your constant wisdom and encouragement of growth in my life. xo

All nature/ quote images from Pinterest:https://www.pinterest.com/KAlluraMarie/

And a throw back to my nineties teen years when I was indebted to the rebels and the outcasts who brought me alternative music, outside the box thinking, and the sight to see the loveables others saw as troublemakers. It was a big deal- pre iTunes, to hear songs outside of what was allowable in my school, and be exposed to radio or CD tracks- and I am so glad I had the friends who dared to BE. I hope they get back what was given to me: Life by Our Lady Peace.


nyssa said...

"But that is not faith. Faith requires complete trust in something that is unprovable." my favourite part. such beautiful wisdom. oh how I love to breathe in this safe space xoxo

Kmarie A. said...

Thank you. I am so glad you feel safe. Breathe deeply friend in all that revives because you have revived me too many times to count. xo

anthony mururi said...

great work "Convictions are normal, but taking them into every conversation or daily relationship comes at a cost."


S said...

How others try to cage our soul, without knowing that they are caging our breath in that process...if they only knew that ...that words that they utter are not simply words but have impact on the soul of a person...would they stop forcing/dominating ? I don't know the answer. But I do know that in the event of others forcing their views/opinions on us,( which they have no idea that they are suffocating us), it is all the more important to love ourselves more and more...many hermits love their home because of these insensitive comments coming from outside...the world outside talks without thinking of the repercussions...like an abuser who abuses the victim and walks away...It is the victim who has to recollect/put together/renew her own lost sense of self... a safe place is so necessary because we have to keep our souls safe, again and again...because there are people out there who have no concept of the soul..

Kmarie A. said...

Anthony: Thank you:)

S: "How others try to cage our soul, without knowing that they are caging our breath in that process"- very poetic. Love that. I agree that sometimes it can not helped...and each person comes from their own experiences, environment, personality, and perspectives...so that it is very important to continue honouring our own essence too like you speak of. I agree that we need safe places because of this to collect ourselves. It's a sad fact but its true. Thank you for adding more to what you already quoted above and for inspiring the post in the first place:)

Machiri said...

Great inspiration

Ashe Skyler said...

Squee! A mention of afterlife! This chart is so cool -> http://www.religionfacts.com/big-religion-chart
I like how prevalent "reincarnation until heaven" is. It sounds like a rather nice concept. Ahem, er, yes. Religious special interest moment. Moving on...

One thing I never could get over in church was how the Jews were constantly put down and the Romans were praised. Romans did some rather unnerving things to an awful lot of people, and as your husband probably is well aware of from his studies, they screwed up a lot of the original Christian doctrine with their beliefs. Trying to bring that up in Sunday School class tends to put you on the same chopping block as the atheists though. Sometimes I wondered if it would have been safer to claim being an atheist in the middle of church than to question the worship of the Romans! Not saying I hate Romans or anything, just that it seemed inconsistent to the anti-persecution lessons.

Kmarie A. said...

Very cool chart...and also a teensy bit depressing. LOl.

Well, it is unfortunate how much the prejudism against judaism went...yup yup. Hmmmmm up here the romans were pretty hated in sunday school too...it's ironic- who we choose as the "chosen", who we pit as "bad" guys historically and "good" guys... interesting and as you said very inconsistent.

Ashe Skyler said...

Your bunch didn't like Romans? Hrm... Now I have an urge to do a future research binge to see if that is more of an individual trait or a denomination trait. A denomination comparison is on the list anyway to satisfy other curiosities.

Personal bias really is a huge problem in recorded history. Very rarely have I ever seen a story that told all the sides to an event rather than whatever they wished to color the opinions of the people with. Even with the little stuff. A light-hearted example is my prankful grandfather telling how the neighbor ate nine biscuits one morning for breakfast, but failed to mention the biscuits in question were about an inch wide.

And then of course you have a few instances where despite the best efforts of the writers, the bad guy is remembered as a pretty awesome dude. There is quite an amusing level of adoration given to pirates and outlaws! :)

Kmarie A. said...

Yes different denominations can sometimes feel like differing religions! LOl
Yes personal bias is basic history. It should be said before each history lesson. I like your example:) LOl pirates and outlaws...aye matey and yehaw.:)

FlutistPride said...

I was taught to use personal experience with God as a teaching tool aided by scripture...and my lifestyle. The only Bible someone may read is the way I conduct myself and I try to keep that in mind. I am not always comfortable shouting Bible verses at people, so I use values and conduct to share my faith. I sacrifice a few pleasures here and there, but I don't destroy myself in the process. Managing neutral pleasures is all about what you think to be right. Of course, if I were causing someone to stumble, I would stop. Sometimes, people get so hung up on adiaphora (church, lifestyle, and other issues the Bible does not address directly) that it does more harm than good. I feel that Christianity has lost its true essence (agape love) over the years.

Kmarie A. said...

@flutist pride: it sounds like your education in this regard was more balanced:) I agree that it often does more harm than good.:)
Hope your long weekend goes well and happy 4th.