Twilight in Beaufort, SC
“Give every other human being the right you demand for yourself.” Robert Ingersoll
“Equality is probably forever unattainable. It is a noble ideal, but it can never be realized because what men desire is not rights, but privileges.” - H. L. Mencken
We hear a lot about “rights.” People fight for rights, preserve their rights, lose their rights, die for their rights – the list goes on and on. In the grand scheme, there are many “human rights” that folks before us fought and died to be sure that we as the citizenry had. But on a day to day basis, when we have gotten our dander worked up about our “rights” it is because we feel we are due something. We might think we have the right to revenge or recrimination when someone has wronged or criticized us. We may think we have the right to a settlement or compensation when we feel someone’s actions have infringed upon our territory. We might feel we have the right to speak our mind when we disagree with something, the right to take something when something has been taken from us, the right to a fair public hearing when we think we have been wronged – the list goes on and on.
For those of us who are doing the best we can to pursue a spiritual path, this is dangerous territory. First, there is the issue with expectations as a whole. As soon as we narrow our focus to an individual thing that we are “expectant” of we have set ourselves up for resentment and self-pity if our expectation does not come to pass. At the same time, if the thing we expect comes to pass we have precluded gratitude – after all, once “it” is ours, it was merely what we “deserved” in the first place. So when we decide we are going to demand something we think we are due it is easy to put ourselves in a no-win situation. Another problem is how easy it is to wreak all manner of destruction when we think we are “owed” something. In a heartbeat we can become completely self-centered and are trampling over the same “rights” of everyone else’s. Is there anyone as scary as the zealot, who is so fervently consumed on their mission of exacting their due that they view any harm they cause others to be justifiable collateral damage? Besides, if I walk around shaking my fist at the sky and demanding that I get what I deserve I may not be all that happy with how that works out.
On the other side of the coin, when we see the wisdom of foregoing our “rights” on frequent occasions, do we view ourselves as martyrs? If so, we have simply developed a new expectation that we are going to get some type of accolades in exchange for our “piety.” Is there anything more pathetic as the pious victim, who bemoans their “sacrifices” in the secret hopes that victim mentality will bring them some sort of elevated status? If so, we have missed the whole point of humility and gratitude. When our focus is on “getting our due” it is impossible to be in a frame of mind sufficiently open and willing to allow the spirit to work with and through us to attain the best possible outcome of the situation at hand – right NOW and right HERE. With some spiritual maturity, we realize that what we think we are owed is seldom the thing of most value that can come out of the situation. We learn to get out of the way, open our mind, seek guidance and look for the greater good. Because what we think we want is seldom the best thing for us and almost never the best alternative available. And if we are looking to the future for our “salvation” we are sure to live a life full of unsated anticipations.
Today, may I want what I have.
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Have a great Monday !!