Go forth into the world in peace. Be of good courage, hold fast to that which is good. Render to no one evil for evil. Go forth into the world in love. Strengthen the fainthearted, Support the weak, Help the afflicted, Honor all people. Love and serve the Lord. Rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit, Go forth into the world in peace. In Peace.
The above benediction has been a part of my life before I even knew those words, and I learned those words as part of the Houghton University Choir during my freshman year (more than half a life ago.). I have always had what I call a collegial mentality, attempting to create mutual understanding and true collaborative input in every situation possible, where each person learns from the others and each one’s work is seen as valuable in creating the whole — where the whole is always more than the sum of the parts.
I haven’t always been as peaceful of a person in all situations as I would like to have been. Sometimes it has been hard to be peaceful and yet tell someone they are wrong. The number of times I have been expected to say things that amount to “the grass is red”, in order to have peace (peace by the other person’s definition, but it certainly violated my concept of peace) seems to get more prolific as the years go on. I don’t react well to people who require me to agree with patently false statements. If they let it be, I can live and let live, but when they. insist on unity, a false community, my self preservation either dives for cover or mans the battlements.
I have tried to “honor all people”, even when I disagreed with them, and when talking about people who have done serious wrongs to me, never fail to mention the good things I gained from them as well. I try to never paint things in black and white, and since I am NOT colorblind, that doesn’t mean painting shades of grey, but Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange and Red, and the colors in-between and beyond.
And yet I have been called hateful and vindictive, and accused of deliberately antagonizing someone when I had mentioned that current situation allowed us to let sleeping dogs lie, as the cliché goes. Or when I suggested that someone dealing with the person who had lied, coerced and deceived people into firing me from the part time and only job I had at the time, show her compassion and mercy, because her reaction to me showed that she was seriously hurting in some other way to lash out at me so irrationally, I was told by that person that I was vicious and hateful.
There was that one time when events hit us and we ended up with a whirlwind mess around At The Rainbow (we weren’t calling it at that time) and have been cleaning and renovating ever since. It has been getting progressively better. Yet some people still talk about the campus as if it were still that mess, and not the clean showcase house of the street. As if time has changed nothing.
These reactions seem to be coming from an alternate reality where I was doing and saying different things than I am saying and doing. So how do people continue to get and have these impressions of this different me that doesn’t exist, and in some cases never existed?
Some people get stuck in time. Others get stuck out of time. Still others move with time. Then there are those who move among times, and see a bigger picture. As time goes on I am less certain of which one I am. To truly understand myself and others it is important to know which one I am and which one and where they are, to compensate for the red shift. And even if I achieve that status, to understand them, there is no guarantee they will ever achieve it to understand me. So I guess I will continue to strive to know, to understand, but be able to settle with being misunderstood, knowing I am misunderstanding others.
It isn’t easy.