The thought of heaven haunts us
because the capability of it lies within us.
The above Sunday School quote was on my mind when I referred to “the perfect moment to institute that more divine order” (article 109). In my vocabulary that is not a reference to the supernatural. Instead, it identifies the character and aspiration of the new world we are building together.
Today we reflect on the meaning we attach to historical events. After I posted my article, the internet served me two compatible but contrasting views of the riot: Arnold Schwarzenegger’s outspoken patriotism and Michael Moore’s studied analysis, concentrating on defense of democracy and prosecution of criminals. The world is ready for my other perspective, neither bipartisan nor depressed. I use the effusive happiness mentioned in the prior article to support constructive action.
I acknowledge the seriousness of violent insurrection, but at the same time I turn all difficulties into anticipation of the better future. What we learn about ourselves gives us the strength to establish peace thoughtfully. Especially, in the last article I showed that I am not in pain. Freed from anger, my mind is clear to continue the path of peace.
Based on earlier articles, article 109 proceeded without name-calling and recriminations. Here we are accustomed to looking inward for peaceful resolutions. By living our lives on a plane above anger, we calmly proceed to healing. It is a good time to review the Ernstraudian Way (article 38):
· Begin where you are.
· Face the light.
· Proceed at your own pace.
· Bring someone with you.
By concentrating on the love we extend to others, we move always toward the better world regardless of interruptions or setbacks. We get there by joining together.
Worthwhile police work is not my area of expertise. In article 32 I refused to watch news reports of burning buildings because the watching serves no useful purpose. I waste no time pretending to be superior to government. Instead, I make constructive contributions to its excellence. I improve it by supporting progress (agreeable changes), not by complaining.
Pacifism is anything but passive. A pacifist never waits for the greedy to attack and then lies down motionless. Usefully waging the peace is to anticipate needs and address them. Distressed, greedy people are better approached with assistance than with confrontation. Desperados, in their greed, are not beyond learning that if they preserve my life, they will get more than my meager material goods. What I help them become is greater reward than the spoils of war. If I am a contributor to their happiness, they are not motivated to destroy me.
Instead of condemning the poor or the rich, I teach both to be happier by sharing. That is a long, gradual process carried out by good example and positive expectations (article 107). You see, I apply to others the love that was applied to me throughout my whole life. Likewise, when you apply love, you will reap peace in a better society.
This is the fact of life that makes every little person significant. I make no attempt to accumulate wealth for philanthropy. My deliberate choice, based on my gifts, is to conflate my (Ernstraudian) wealth with happiness. I do not wear a badge, but I can be a poll watcher. I am not a preacher, but I can say something nice to the crotchety man who lives on the corner. I am not the biggest customer of the grocery store, but I can be polite in the aisles and say something encouraging to the harried cashier. I can drive courteously on the highway. I can walk the walk by serving in public office.
In the aggregate, this exactly describes good government. Being American is not being in the same social club with everybody else. It is not “winning” elections. Instead, our diverse society thrives on the magnanimity of character mentioned in article 109. That is the universal bond, and I do not know anybody who is against love. It is what qualifies us for the social order. It is active pacifist defense. What we do not do with love, we do not do.
How does being nice guarantee this happiness? All the water in the world cannot sink the tiniest boat if it does not get inside. We stay afloat personally by never letting the anger in. Being free of that pain is our happiness. Best of all, it is under our control. Greed, being out of control, is never fulfilled because self-aggrandizement is never enough. Eliminating anger, we retain control over the happiness which cannot be taken away from us.
Indeed, happiness is positive perception of the world you are in. Africa provides praiseworthy examples. David Zarembka held healing circles, reconciliation meetings, that brought together survivors of bloody riots between Hutus and Tutsis. He led people from both sides in trust building exercises through which they built new bonds of fellowship. He asked them to forgive and befriend those who had murdered their neighbors and spouses. I have attended his in-person account of these successful sessions. I have also conversed with a young gentleman from Ghana who affirmed to me that his country is a kinder, gentler, less aggressive place than here where I live. In the job market I have encountered trainers who have had to teach gentle people from Africa and other places how to promote themselves in America where you have to toot your own horn. I witness that human social order can be carried on where people put other ahead of self. My life’s witnessing aims to bring this blessing to my country’s people.
Consider a sobering danger of the parent-child relationship. Please adapt it as appropriate where it applies, whether to family, association, or government. Freedom does not thrive under overbearing control, whether that is shared love (article 59), government (104), or charities (105). Specifically, I have seen all too many cases of well-meaning parents who meddle with their children’s development. Almost invariably such parents operate on a deeply ingrained sense of duty to assure the child’s best interest. Sadly, they fail to respect the child’s independence on issues like career, marriage, politics, religion, gender, or personal identity.
Unhappiness is self-imposed. Selfish parents suffer over the decisions of children who do not become exact copies of the parents. In their own insecurity, they don’t acknowledge that the children will survive on a road different from the one the parents are travelling. They grieve unnecessarily over children who have found themselves in a different world. The children mature and succeed while the parents bring mental suffering on themselves when they cannot expand to new reality in which the children thrive.
Alternatively, to address the tensions, mutual respect assures loving accommodation of differences. On both sides, love is the key to the well-adjusted individuality we call happiness. This option is always available; those who reject it cause their own suffering.
The family setting might be easier to understand than a government setting. However, in the public arena the principle still applies that one party may not impose its norms on another, especially regarding personal values like identity, occupation, gender, marriage, reproductive rights, and many other. Protecting these basic individual freedoms is a duty for which government exists, and the “parent” organization must assure my safety.
Along with the above duties of society to me, I have duties of tolerance to my society. I personally choose not to live in a country that commits torture, practices capital punishment, or possesses nuclear weapons. However, that is not for me alone to determine, and until my persuasion prevails, it is my duty to live peacefully in a country that does not live up to my standards. It is not my place to overthrow the government of the country when it offends me; I must control myself to assure the safety of the society around me.
Today we have studied theory and practice at the personal and the collective levels. The specific stories serve as illustrations of fundamental principles. The overarching purpose of the article is peaceful, nonconfrontational resolution and reconciliation among disparate entities. The most important issue is that we get along peacefully with each other.
Anger and happiness are alternative responses to all manner of events, conditions, and circumstances. Our responses come from our character; they are not imposed on us. Whether you enjoy the Ernstraudian wealth that we call happiness is entirely under your control. For me, choosing tolerance makes effusive happiness.