Tuesday, July 21, 2009

In Search of...my new religion

I started talking about forming a new religion a couple of days ago, seeing as I now have 16 "followers." I was just dipping my toe in the water, so to speak, when the response signaled that I had struck a nerve. There was some eye rolling and suggested fiery places I might wind up for contemplating such a blasphemous thing, but mostly there was intense curiosity and intrigue, and so I decided to get serious about what started out as a tongue-in-cheek idea because it seemed to me more people than not are searching for something they haven't already found in whatever religion they have been affiliated with or not so far. Maybe we're just facing the same questions as every generation has - Who am I? What is the purpose of my life? What is the meaning of life in general? Is there anything after this, and if so, what? And does that next phase depend on what I do in this one? These are all questions every one of us has asked or wondered about at some point, and those devout to one religion or another are certain they have the right answers. Oh, and there's also the question of human suffering - a biggie to be sure.

So while I'm making smart ass suggestions about the ritual of bringing me couture shoes and possibly chocolate, I am willing to throw some ideas out there that did not by any means originate with me, but have made their way into my psyche nonetheless. I'm willing to suggest that bringing chocolate has as much cosmic impact as anything else one might bring to prayer short of an open heart and mind. Don't get me wrong, rituals can be beautiful but I do not think the direction we're facing or wine we drink is going to matter much more to the Big Guy than the outcome of the football game - but that's just me.

Here's what I do think matters - love. Oh, and I don't mean the hippy-dippy, Pollyanna, everyone-is-good-at-heart kind of love. (Look how far that got Anne Frank.) I mean the kind of love that allows arch enemies to sit down and look for a way to co-exist. I mean the kind of love that prompts me to take the last piece of bread I have and break it in half to share it with you. I mean the kind of love that transcends gender, languages, race, sexual orientation, education, economic status, and yes, religion. It's not the easy kind of love where you love only those who mirror yourself in every way, which is what most of us practice right now. It's the tough kind - the kind that stretches you as a human being. And so my new spiritual practice (because the word "religion" feels like too separatist a word to use) is predicated on one notion. Are you ready? It'll be a mind blower to a lot of people -

Each of us is 100% responsible for 100% of everything that goes on everywhere in the world 100% of the time.

Now I know this could be a deal breaker right here for most people because we don't usually like to take responsibility for our own actions, let alone everyone else's too. Not to mention, we enjoy blaming - everything from the weather to bad luck, and everyone from our parents and spouses to God...as if God would ever be as petty as we've managed to become. But it gets us off the hook and I think it's high time we took some personal responsibility. So after much contemplation, I've decided that mine is the religion of personal responsibility, and in keeping with such, my first commandment, if I were to have any commandments, that is, is this:

Clean up your own mess.

I know that may sound simplistic, but it's pretty all inclusive and I'd like to expound because, well, how often do you get to expound on matters of great importance? Not often. So, by "clean up your own mess," I mean on all possible levels - literally, if you litter or pollute, or are the kind that leaves a shopping cart in the middle of the grocery store parking lot (a total pet peeve of mine), then put it where it's supposed to go. That also goes for the items you change your mind about in a store - put them back where they belong. Not only will you be doing the right thing and leaving things the way you found them, but you will get a little extra exercise walking the few steps. Okay, so that's a small scale thing. Here's a large scale thing - clean up the messes of all your relationships. Even if you've been divorced for twenty years, even if you don't and will never agree, even if you're right and they're wrong, even if what happened was unforgivable, even if you've lost everything or won everything - this world would be completely transformed if each of us would say to those whose lives have been intertwined with ours, "I'm deeply and truly sorry for anything I've done, knowingly or unknowingly, that has caused you pain." There is massive transformative power in the words, "I'm sorry."

Since this is too broad a topic to conclude in one blog entry, I've decided that, like my political blogs, I will do this regularly as well. So here's my assignment for today - pick up one piece of trash or shopping cart that isn't yours and properly dispose of it, and call or speak to one person with whom you have unresolved issues and apologize. We've all hurt, and we've all been hurt. Don't you think today would be a great day to turn that around?

Thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends.

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