Monday, March 5, 2012

Beyond Good and Evil

So how do we stop walking around with two boxes, one for good and one for evil? Long lines are evil, short lines are good. Rich people are evil, poor people are good. Mosquitoes are evil, butterflies are good.

My neighbor said he won't talk politics because people get so worked up. But he said he'll vote.

Anyway, here are some strategies:

1. Go to a quiet place and get centered.
This might be counting to ten. Or meditating. Or taking a walk. Or eating a bowl of fruit. Do whatever works for you. Let the anger subside and the ripples in the water diminish.
2. Describe rather than judge.
Once we are in the judgment mode we stop observing. We've decided what's good and what isn't. Imagine instead you are a scientist and describe what you are looking at. And when you get tired of doing that, describe the observer describing the event. The difficulty in drawing is actually in seeing what is in front of us. A cd laying on our desk is not a circle unless we are right on top of it.
3. Look at the costs and benefits of both sides rather than making a "judgment."
Even a horrific disaster has many benefits. We are often in situations where we don't choose good from bad, but rather choose something with more benefits and less costs than another thing. What should I put on popcorn, butter or spray butter-flavored Crisco? Do I need to demonize one to choose the other?
4. Step outside of yourself and imagine what someone/something very different from yourself might think.
Contemplate a topic like contraception from the viewpoint of someone who trusts the Pope. Do we really want to call them "stupid" if we don't trust who they trust? And what do they call us for being so ignorant? Allow yourself to see what you'd think if you grew up with different influences, different handicaps. 
5. Realize you don't know all the answers, and, in fact, are prone to thinking you know a lot more than you do.
What do we really know? We can make a fair amount of safe bets. We turn a corner in our car and assume that there isn't a big hole in the street. But sometimes surprises come. Or take a simple question like "how long is 3 seconds?" One could study that for their lifetime and probably raise more questions than they'd answer. 



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