Wednesday, June 10, 2009

What Do You Love More?

This blog by Antony Hebblethwaite was sent to me by a friend.

When Hate Clouds Love Scape

Mr. Hebblethwaite has me pondering the pain of this reality: when anyone loves his or her ideology more than other human beings, that person is engaging in emotional abuse.

To bring it closer to home: when I love my ideology more than my family, particularly my children, I am committing emotional abuse.

To make it more specific: when I love my religion or my politics or "the way we've always done things", or my "values" more than I love someone in my life with whom I have any sort of considered relationship, I am violating that relationship at its core. I am saying that the inherent worth and dignity of that person's life is of less value than a set of ideas I have.

Regardless of how important any of us think that a particular set of ideas is, that is finally all that they are. Ideas. Ideas: organized, prioritized, tested, honored, followed, obeyed, taught, learned, read, considered, pondered and reflected on, required, demanded, dogmatized, divinized. It does not matter. They remain simply what they are: human mental movements. And if you stop and think about it, humans produce "movements" at both ends of our bodies. And, while we may not notice the similarity, often allowing things to move (out of our heads, or out of our colons, it matters not) can be a very cleansing, freeing experience.

But, much more to the point: human beings. Especially the ones I have a considered relationship with. They walk. They breathe. They think. They feel. They get hungry and filled. They laugh and cry. They rejoice and they fear. They reach out and they recoil. Every single one of them wants as deeply as I do to be accepted and allowed.

Accepted and allowed. To be who they are, as they are. To be asked or required to be otherwise is abuse. Ask a tree to be a rock. Ask a river to be an asphalt highway. Ask a dog to be a hawk. How absurd. Ask a child to be an adult. Ask an artist never to paint again. Ask a dancer never to move again. Ask a child or friend, brother or sister, neighbor or colleague who is gay to be straight. In any of these, the asking is absurd and to insist is abuse. It abuses the real person, the reality of the life, the real breath drawn into the real body that really lives, and asks it to do otherwise. It is to require that person that we say we have a considered relationship with . . . to die.

Which do you love more: Jesus or your son? Which do you love more: your family values or your daughter? Which do you love more: how the members of the club will think of you or your brother? Which do you love more: how good people are supposed to behave or your life-long friend?

Not fair! These are false-dichotomies, we may protest. But, every single one of them are a choice between human ideologies of a sort and real human beings. Some who read this will simply think it absurd: that anyone chould choose ideology over people. But, it happens all the time.

Watch the man with a WWJD bracelet on scream at his daughter because she has a boyfriend of the wrong color. It's clear what Jesus would have done. He'd have invited the young man to dinner. But, dad's Christian ideology which prefers his skin color over other skin colors is more important than his daughter's young companion or more so, his daughter herself.

Watch the mother quote bible scriptures unending to her son, on any given topic in an attempt to change him. She has not listened to him, and he has stopped listening to her. Her ideology of "the truth" is more important than her true son.

Where to start? How about the mirror? Can I allow the truth of who that is reflected back to me? Or, must some set of ideas about who I am take presidence over who I really am? The choice is the difference in living my life, and abusing it. And, how I treat myself, standing in the mirror, is going to be how I treat others. Hmmm. Sounds like something Jesus (and Lao Tzu, and the Buddha and the Gita and the Torah) said.

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