Posts Tagged ‘justice’

IT’S NOT FAIR!

At one time or another, we’ve all complained that life isn’t fair. Children do it all the time: Karen, who is older by two years, is allowed to stay up later than her younger siblings. They complain to dad that they’re being treated unjustly, not realizing that at the same age her bedtime was thirty minutes earlier. As adults, we attribute this behavior to immaturity and expect that as children grow and develop this rationale will make way for a more judicious way of thinking . Sadly, many people carry this mind-set with them well into adulthood. Two of my favorite comedians from years back, Tom and Dick Smothers, had a standing skit where one grumbled that “Mom always liked you best!”, indicating a biased favoritism. On stage, this is entertaining. In real life, it’s unflattering and harmful.

Gary Zukov, NY Times bestselling author of The Seat of the Soul, says that the most important thing we have are our belief systems. Our entire lives are built upon them and if inaccurate we struggle and suffer. Believing that life was designed to be fair and balanced is a faulty tenet. When we see an perceived injustice we seek to recreate rightfulness. When it is not forthcoming, we feel frustrated and discriminated against. “I should have gotten that promotion, not the boss’s son. I’ve been here longer. That’s not fair!”

In our relationships, especially the close, personal or intimate ones, this kind of mindset can prove devastating. There are those who actually keep score: “I helped you when you needed it. Now you should give me a hand as well. That’s only right.” “I paid for our last evening out. Now it’s your turn.” In an attempt to keep things equitable, we manipulate the other party into feeling guilty should they decline our request. Seeking equality is a futile endeavor – it simply does not exist in an imperfect world inhabited by imperfect human beings. Attempting to do so is one of the quickest ways to build anger and resentment – toxic ingredients capable of destroying lives.

Life isn’t fair yet it is perfectly just. The lyrics to a Colin Raye song state that “You don’t always get what you want, you get what you need.” If we subscribe to this premise, which I do, then life is exactly what we need it to be. Each experience, each individual, each loss, each success is exactly what is necessary for us to fulfill our Divine Destiny, our Dharma (as Wayne Dyer calls it). If my child wants to be a great artist, I provide them with the proper canvases, brushes, and paints. If my son has a sprained ankle, I get him crutches. Identical? No. Fair? Yes. Each is receiving exactly what they need in that moment for their own good. Fair does not mean the same – it means having equal value. We become angry in part because we mistakenly assign random values to events and then compare what each of us has.

One of our greatest challenges lies in realizing that we are not meant to be treated alike but that the Universe, in all of its infinite wisdom, always provides exactly what we are meant to have for our higher good and that each experience has equal value.

What then is the solution to avoiding the bitterness and resentment assigned to the belief that life should be fair?
1. Remember that if life were perfectly balanced we would learn nothing: patience, appreciation, determination, forgiveness, and much more.
2. Celebrate the successes of others, extend compassion for their losses regardless of where you are in life, knowing that at the precise moment it is needed each will receive what they are intended to have.
3. Keep in mind that every single experience, no matter how insignificant, no matter how painful or frightening plays a unique role in fulfilling our Divine Destiny – which is always to bring us closer to God.
4. Don’t compare or keep score. One never fully realizes the challenges others are struggling with. Focus only on addressing and learning from your own. Failure to do so leads to self-pity, victimization, misery, and suffering.
5. Trust that God’s love for you always directs you to your highest good. Be at peace with your life. You are in good hands, the best hands, with God.

Life may not appear to be fair but it is always unbiased. Each of us is given exactly what we need to assist us in our spiritual growth and to bring us into a more intimate relationship with our Lord. Sounds pretty just to me.

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WHEN TO FIGHT AND WHEN TO NOT

I’m not much of a fighter. When I was a child, my dad taught me that if someone hits you, hit them back but never be the one to throw the first punch. In essence, only fight back when you have to defend yourself. My mom’s message was taken from Luke 6:29 and contradicted Dad’s: “If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them.” Her voice resonated the strongest with me and for the better part of my life I’d walk away from any confrontation whether physical or verbal. During my childhood, there was a girl who frequently bullied me. I continually walked away from her but she was relentless. One day, I told my older sister who took up my cause. She grabbed the girl by the hair and told her to leave me alone. She never bothered me again.

With the exception of protecting myself in a domestic violence relationship, I have never engaged in physical conflict in my life. And while my typical style of confrontation was one of silence, I have since become more comfortable with engaging in disputes of a verbal nature. While I refuse to participate in an ugly or hostile discussion, I can now more easily verbally defend what I believe in.

Mankind is often quick and eager to fight. A sense of arrogance and entitlement has lessened one’s ability to be patient, has classified some as unworthy of being treated with respect and dignity, and supports the belief that the self should have what they want even at the expense of others. People also have a lower tolerance level than ever before and in many instances seek every opportunity to incite an argument or fight in an attempt to assert power and dominance over others. None of these are a spiritually valid reason for fighting.

There is a time and place for everything and one needs to know when it is best to follow my Mom’s and Luke’s advice to simply walk away and when one needs to stand up for justice as recommended in Isaiah 1:17 “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” Keep in mind, that when I speak of fighting, I am in no way referring to physical altercations, the destruction of property, or nasty, hateful verbal assaults or threats of any kind. The key to successfully defending one’s person or position and seeking righteous justice (that is, according to Divine Law) is knowing when it’s appropriate to stand tall and when it’s best to let things be as they are. Having a proper set of communication and negotiating skills is essential as well.

Here are some guidelines:

WHEN TO FIGHT:
You are defending those incapable of protecting themselves.
The issue is serious and will not resolve itself or will escalate if not addressed.
There is severe and real harm being perpetrated against yourself or another.
The offense is in violation of God’s law; it is a moral issue.
To remain silent allows evil to prosper.
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” – Sir Edmund Burke

WHEN TO NOT:
No one is being harmed physically, emotionally, or psychologically.
The only thing bruised is your ego.
You have a personal vendetta against the other party.
You are seeking revenge. Romans 12:19 “beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of god, for it is written, “vengeance is mine, i will repay, says the lord.”
The issue will resolve itself.
There is a serious risk that getting involved will only escalate matters.
The issue will not matter in ten years.
It’s none of my business or the other party can handle it themselves.
There is only a perception of harm, not a real and valid threat.
The issue is not one of a moral nature.

Keep in mind, that humans are known for making mountains out of molehills; for making matters appear far more serious than they are; for seeking to exert dominance over others. If any of these are your motives for getting involved in an exchange of ideas (I hesitate to use the word fight for it’s generally accepted definition of a physical altercation or an extremely heated debate) I strongly advise reassessing the situation and finding an alternative course of action. However, if you reasons are to stand up for what you truly believe is morally right, then by all means pursue your decision to address the issue.

Let me reiterate: in the beginning I stated that “for the better part of my life I’d walk away from any confrontation”. My choice of words accurately reflects my beliefs: life is consistently better when one chooses to not fight. (Did you notice that I listed twice as many reasons to not fight?) Therefore, be discreet: carefully and righteously evaluate each situation before becoming involved. Know when it is in your best interest, as well as the other party’s, to simply let things be as they are. If intervention is essential, carefully choose your attitude and approach, motives and methods for they will certainly determine the outcome and lasting effects of your efforts.

Q: The goal of the righteous is to bring a peaceful and fair resolution to each situation for all those concerned.

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