Monday, April 30, 2018

What if we treated each other like we were visiting a new country?


I am quite fascinated with human psychology. Whenever I have the chance, I'm usually listening, reading, or watching videos that will better help me understand myself, and other people.

            I find that there is always something to learn, or something new unlearn about myself and others. Something new to discover.

One thing I find quite interesting is the fact everyone seems to feel like an outsider of sorts. Everyone feels not understood, lonely, or disconnected---like we don't fit in. No matter where you go, you hear or see this call, like an SOS written on the sand of some marooned castaway. Like a message in a bottle, desperately trying to reach some soul, the call is always the same:

   "Help. I'm lonely. Does anyone hear me? Does anyone understand? Am I the only one who feels alone?"

            No matter who you talk to, even people who you think are popular, and have it all together say the same thing, "No one gets me, it feels like I'm just an island."

 Or, "I feel like an outsider all the time."


Then the funny thing is, the more I learn about people, and listen to them, the more I find that all people feel this way at some point.

            The people who feel judged, judge the people who judge them, and vise versa. And it never seems to end.


I did an experiment and went to a wide variety of diverse Churches over the course of a few weeks, and quite enjoyed my experience. It was most enlightening, and I felt quite free doing it.

            At one church I ate brownies, while enjoying a wonderful sermon.

            At a different church they had a practice where you hugged everyone there before any preaching went on. I actually think I got hugged twice by everyone.

            At another Church we sang very long hymns, and the preacher quite intimated me after the services trying to make me stay.

            Another Church, the preacher preached very forcefully, echoing loudly through the church walls, rattling my bones.

            Some believed that women could preach.

            Others did not.

            Some were more open.

            Some were not.

            But all were unique and different.

            I came with the intent of learning, and was not disappointed.

I discovered one common thread.

            No matter what Church I went to, I sensed the a profound love, and sincerity, and a desire not to be alone, to be understood, and loved, and a deep connection with God. They looked at a newcomer carefully, almost a little afraid, but they were all loving, generous, and gracious, and welcomed me with open arms.

            I, in turn, welcomed them. And I felt like I had discovered something beautiful, new, and loved each one for their unique differences.

               Another common thread I felt with all of them, was that they seemed to feel judged by the other religions in the area, and a little afraid that no one quite understood them. Each Church seemed to assume they knew what the other people believed, and thought who went to the other religions. But all were basically the same. All the people were kind. All were smart, sweet, and good. All desired to connect to God, to each other, and to feel love, to not be alone, and not to be judged, to have someone understand them.

  Here was the SOS again.  

  In effect, it seems that the cry to be understood, and and seen for who we really are is universal.  We are all souls who have a thirst to be understood, and to understand, to connect, and to share.

           It doesn't matter what ladders we climb, we all want connection.  But this modern society seems to breed the opposite of what we actually desire, and need.

            We all want to feel understood, important, with our intent for our actions not to be judged.

            We want to be seen.

But so little of us ever feel like we are.

            We seem to fill up this lonely void with social media, videos, meaningless interactions, half planned parties, empty conversations about our occupations, accomplishments, or next step we are going to take up the ladder of success. We put up barbs of defiance to keep anyone from getting into our mighty fortress.

    But we don't seem to talk, do, or connect with anything that is real, even when we have the chance, for fear that it will crumble our walls.

            This adds to the hunger. It's like we have a tape worm of the soul, and our modern society is the worst tape worm of all because the more you consume, the more we peruse the grand illusion of what we think we need, the thinner, more mal-nourished, and hungrier we become.  It's an never ending cycle,  that is never going to fill that void, and was never meant to.

    Real connection can't be automated, and isn't a thing you can synthesize in Churches, schools, or meetings just because you put it in your planner. It happens despite the system, because there are real people, with real hearts, and real dreams, with real voices and minds willing to be vulnerable, and real themselves. Willing to give love without condition.

            We hunger to visit foreign lands, to go on adventures, to see knew things, to expand our life. We post pictures of exotic foods we've tried, and the vacations that we take, all in a desperate attempt to find value in our life, and to share, to connect. To say, "Hey, I am here. This is my land."

            But what if instead of always hungering for the next grand adventure to an exotic land, we would treat ourselves, and the people closest to us like the next grand adventure, like the next foreign land we are going to visit, and learn about.

   What if, when we visited with another human, we greeted them like we were visiting a foreign country we were going to reside in for the next year.

            That would be truly life changing for everyone.

            The lonely souls in this world would suddenly feel like their language was understood, that their life was worth getting to know.

             What a marvelous thought.

             Brothers, sisters, mother's, fathers, Grandparents, friends, neighbors, strangers---each one is a new country, just like ourselves. Even people we think we may know, are people that we probably know the least.

            What if when we came into the realm of another, we took off our 'shoes' in respect, put away previous prejudices, erased all previous conceptions we have about that soul, and visited this 'new country' like it was the first time we have ever been to their land. We would learn their stories, share in their life experiences, partake in reverence of what they hold dear. 
 We would ask new questions, we would taste new flavors, we would try new experiences. We ourselves would be changed.

            We wouldn't compare. Only learn. Appreciate. Discover. Explore. And come away enlightened.

            But to do something like that is extremely vulnerable. Who wants to visit a land they know nothing about? And even if you think you know something about that country, when you get there, and really immerse yourselves in this new land, you will probably be taken back by the fact that this new land is so very different from your own.

            You may not want to stay. You may hate it. Everything will feel strange, and new, and weird.

            Things will be uncomfortable at first---they always are.

            You may be repulsed at first, perhaps they do things so differently from you. You may want to destroy this new land, and change it to a place you can accept with ease. You may wish to invade this new land, change the layout of its cities, uproot its weeds, tear down the walls, conquer its oil, plunder its riches, reform its educational system, give it a new god, a new religion, take away its heritage, and give it your own.

            That is what most of us do when we visit a 'new land.'  Consciously, or unconsciously done. No matter our 'good' intent, the effects are still the same.

            More isolation.

            More war.

            More desolation.



            That is what we will reap.
           Hearts that are frosting over, cold, and isolated.

Tall towers, thicker walls. Islands that are unvisited, surrounded by miles of ocean.  Marooned on our own beautiful land, with no one to share its beauty with, for fear of having the typhoon of judgment passed on our sacred land.

      In order to keep foreign invaders out, to keep our lands safe, and our temples from being destroyed---the sacred things we hold dear, we will build up walls, towers, dig moats, deep trenches, guard our walls with zeal, and keep all who would enter, out.

            High fences, trip wires, alarm systems. Better security.

            This is what keeps our 'country' safe.

            This is what I do, this is what you do. For if anyone ever enters in, there is always a fear that, if you begin to show anyone your prosperity, or your poverty, your strengths or weakness, if you show them your ways, they may plunder your land, or dig up what you have planted, and you will starve, and feel much more lonely an isolated than before.  You cannot share, if you don't feel safe.  

            So the walls continue to go up.

            Fear reigns.

            Plunder happens.
            Trading of ideas, and thoughts come to a halt.

            Dreams go unshared.

            Ideas go unheard.

            Languages die.

            Cultures suffer.

            Wonderful, beautiful, wildly happy moments never happen.

            Learning suffers.

            Barriers go up.

            Connections are severed.

            People talk, but no one listens.

            People listen, but never talk.

            We may visit, we leave cookies on the porch, throw bread baskets over the walls, toss tomatoes, cast our judgments, peek through facebook portholes, peeking in at people's lives, but never getting to know them like we could. 

            Such abundance, a life of meaning together, all locked up safely in the lands of our well guarded souls.  

            Children feel isolated.

            Suicide climbs.

            Our meaningful conversations get smaller, our TVs get bigger, and so does the oceans between our islands.

            But now more than ever we need brave explorers to embark to new worlds. To sail away from what we know, not to plunder, to conquer, or destroy----But with the pure intent to learn, grow, and connect on a deep level. To discover life on new planets, besides our own.

            To learn that we are not alone in the universe.


  But to visit a new land, especially one that's been plundered by Vikings, you have to be kind, soft, and patient.  It may take a long time to get a Visa. Especially if you were once a Viking yourself.

 You may have to bide your time, and wait, and knock on their door, send letters, drive long distances, and do nothing but listen, show your intent to understand the messages they have been sending out into the universe.

            To visit a new land you have to be open, and receptive, intuitive, kind, willing to try new flavors you may not like.

            You must sit quietly, talk softly. Be constant, kind, attentive, truly interested in learning what you did not know before.

            The second you draw your sword of judgment, the game is over.

            You are banished, evicted.

            Weapons must be buried.

            All wounds and tender bruises, vulnerabilities must be exposed on both sides.

            That is where connection happens, for then you both learn that you are both human.

    You are both on new soil.

            At first you will probably feel very uncomfortable.

            In this new land they may not talk like you. You will probably have to learn a foreign language---perhaps communicate with only your hands, or feet, or with pictures, until you both learn enough about each other to speak in ways that you both can understand.

            But love is a universal language, so if you have love, you will be okay.

            You will have to learn their habits. Accept their hospitality, and embrace what you may not understand.

            But if you are really open to visiting this new land, you don't mind. You know that when visiting a foreign land things will probably be uncomfortable at first. Theirs is a different world from yours, but that's why you came in the first place, to learn their culture, to share in their history, and to embrace a life, as they embrace yours.

     Their eating habits may be different.

            Their sleeping habits will be too.

            Their clothes may look strange.

            Their religion will most likely not match your own.


            Their hopes my differ from your own.

            Their education, goals, and desires may be just foreign to you as well.

            You may not understand why they grow what they do in their soil, until you begin to work along side them, and see the seeds grow as you plant them, a soil you'll come to love just as much as your own.

            But each new thing you discover is like gold mined, like rubies polished, like diamonds uncovered, as precious as water, and nourishing as food.

            Two souls.


            The walls tumble down.

            The SOS written on the sand is washed away.

            You are castaways no more. No longer adrift. No longer savages on an island.

            Your message in the bottle was found. So was theirs.

            You understand.

            You feel understood.
  A bridge has been built. Two bridges, in fact. But not by hands. But with hearts.

            You learn.

            They learn.

            Fear crumbles.

            A language is learned.

And you learn that you are not alone, like you thought you were. Not at all.

            Is there life on other planets? Is there new soil yet to be discovered---New tribes to be found, dead languages that can be revived?


            Oh yes.

            As long as there is life, as long as there is another soul on this planet, there is always something new to be discovered. A connection to be made. A view to be shared.




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