Saturday, July 28, 2018

Hopeful Thinking - Saturday, July 28, 2018 - The Intersection of Grace and Self Respect

Evander Holyfield vs Mitt Romney
in a charity boxing match in 2015
         Where do we draw the line? When is enough enough? Our human culture worldwide has been asking that question for about 10,000 years, roughly speaking. The first known slave revolts in history were questions along those very lines. When is my life worth more than this?
         Century by century we have learned the path of asserting our inherent worth and dignity. Because that’s really what it’s all about. Step by step, decade by decade, humanity recognizing that it has value, recognizing that we are in charge of our own individual destinies, acknowledging that working together in peace will ultimately be more profitable than war.
Civilization, for the most part, has already tipped the scales on awakening to the fact that we all deserve to be free. The numerical majority of this planet understands that every human life has value. Every human is born with dignity, freedom and the right to choose. Society then twists and distorts that knowledge to whatever degree serves the regional power structures. They make us question our own agency. Our own right to self-define our experience. Our own worth.
This is the information dictators, despots and tyrants once successfully withheld from us. They are still trying to, with diminishing success. Why else would it have once been illegal to educate a slave? Why else would it have once been illegal to educate a woman? Nothing but for shielding us from the information of our own light. That is the Pandora’s Box they feared. And they made you afraid of it, too. But hope remains.
The potential for discord exists everywhere right now. The landscape of American social interaction is a landmine of offenses and potential hostility. We feel dangerously fractured; our union once again in peril.
But it will be okay. This is how progress occurs. It is the only way, in fact.
We are undergoing an important social process right now. One that we have chosen by our words. We have asked for peace. We have asked for hope and change. They are all coming. There are more people in the world who wish for these than wish for the opposite. They will prevail. Because ultimately it’s not money which makes power. It’s awareness.
Which brings us finally to grace. We must take comfort in our awareness of being on the right side of history. We must be aware of the difficult and painful social impacts of progress. The zig-zag line of advancement is trending upward no matter how hard they try to stop it. We must be prepared to win with grace. It will make it happen faster.
But what exactly is grace? Grace is patience personified. Patience that comes from a place where the ego is in check and pride is something reserved for recognition of our worth and accomplishments. Grace is engaging with others in such a way that you see the light in them no matter what they do. This act alone works to end cycles of violence and deceit. Falsehood has no power against awareness. We turn our cheek from it easily.
But this is not a license to be abused. There is a difference between honor and self respect. Fighting for one’s honor is a wasted gesture of ego-based rage. Half our energy is spent flailing about in a fit with no thought of someday mending relations. Fighting for our so-called honor makes us want to not only win, but completely obliterate our enemies. Eradicate them utterly.
Fighting for one’s self respect makes us throw our punches differently. Thoughtfully. Strategically. Even regretfully. With minimal collateral damage or wasted effort and a desire to restore relationship. Fighting for self respect—literally, for recognition of our dignity—means we’re already strategizing toward diplomacy by restraining ourselves in the heat of battle. Limiting the damage to allow for future relationship. Take the high road.
Grace recognizes that change and destruction are inevitable. It is prepared to make something beautiful of the broken fragments. It is ready to soothe both the victors and those who are not. It does not judge, for it knows the human weakness and has compassion. It knows that we must rebuild together. It sees the friend in even those against whom we defend ourselves. Blessed be.


  1. Leonard Cohen wrote, "There's a crack in everything - it's how the light gets in." Cracks can be strategic, results of throwing "our punches differently," as you've described so well. May we have the courage to wrap our arms around battling with Grace. Thank you.

  2. That’s one of my favorite expressions. In fact, over the next year it’s going to be painted on a giant banner in front of our church!