Image by laurenipsum via FlickrBy Bill Jeffreys
Occasionally I have to deal with a certain religious person in my life who seems to struggle with being friendly or reasonable with me. This person struggles with being nice to me when I don't do what he wants or when I don't agree with him. It's not that I am trying to be difficult. I attempt to compromise, even though I often feel like telling the person to go jump in a lake. Sometimes I roll my eyes and try to take the high road, meaning I just go along with any request, because it means less drama. I get tired of his attempts at shaming me, guilting me, or simply insulting me and raising his voice at me. I'm constantly walking a fine line with this relationship.
So how do I deal with this relationship today? Do I fight this person, or do I run? Am I for, or against this person? The person I am today understands that if I want to know the truth of a matter, I can neither be "for" nor "against" something. The struggle between these two is the mind's worst disease according to Seng-T'san.
When we discover the truth no one can take it away from us. It is an interesting fact that the when we break into teams (for or against something or someone) we shut down open minded thinking. Our minds seem to naturally separate us either "for" or "against" and thereby divide us against other teams, people, beliefs etc.
The outcome of such "for" or "against" thinking is that it keeps us from the truth. We see it in religion with all the many different religions pitted against one another. We see it within a particular religion with its many different sects and denominations. We see it within our country through its divided political parties. And we see it within marriages when they end.
I have been afforded enough time in my life to have once been for religion and against religion; for a political party and then another; to have been married then divorced. I'm moving toward another path, one where I don't have to be "for" or "against."
I'm simply learning to just be assertive. I share my feelings and thoughts honestly with the hope that the other person will work with me. I don't believe I will change them. I simply hope that the truth will change us both.
I realized long ago that we can never change anyone, we can change only ourselves. I don't strive to be right, I strive to know the truth. I believe the truth helps me live a rational life.
Personal change isn't supernatural and it doesn't depend on another person's actions. Change occurs when we personally discover truth and embrace it.
When we discover the truth no one can take it away from us.
I no longer need to be against this person and neither do I have to be for them. I treat them as honestly as I can with the hope that maybe, just maybe, we can discover that truth is much more rewarding then our own self-serving perceptions.
Online Reading List
- An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish by Bertrand Russell (1943)
- Bible Teaching and Religious Practice by Mark Twain
- God is Imaginary
- Is there an Artificial God? by Douglas Adams (1998)
- Skeptics Annotated Bible
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (1795)
- Which Way? by Robert Ingersoll (1884).
- Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)