Sunday, October 30, 2005

Michael Benner's Ruts & Grooves Newsletter

Michael Benner’s
Ruts & Grooves
Commentary for Sentient Beings
October 29, 2005

A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people. – John F. Kennedy

Believe nothing just because a so-called wise person said it. Believe nothing just because it is generally held or written in ancient books. Believe nothing just because it is said to be of divine origin. Believe only what you yourself test and judge to be true. – Buddha


Just as we know we are not the material stuff we own, most spiritually-oriented people understand they are, in reality, much more than their physical appearance. Yet many of us cannot distinguish between behavior and identity, especially when our emotional buttons have been pushed.

One of the most important concepts in parenting, I think, is disciplining a child with an understanding that because you love them, you are disappointed or upset with their behavior. And it is because they are loved that you will impose an appropriate consequence. In other words, instead of saying, “You are bad,” say, “Because I love you, I must help you develop better judgment and behavior.” Rarely do parents make such distinctions clearly, so children often feel they are somehow defective or bad people instead of having simply misbehaved.

I had another visit from the Spirit Police on my KPFK-FM show Friday. Without questions or any other attempt to understand whether her assumptions about my guest were true, she scolded him for his intolerance and judgmental nature.

The self-appointed Spirit Police have attacked me before — for “judging” George W. Bush for sending our children to war in Iraq based on deliberate lies. They called me a hypocrite for judging TV Evangelical Pat Robertson’s call for the assassination of Venezuela’s democratically elected President. I was even criticized recently for using spiritual themes to defend African-American children from ex-Drug Czar Bill Bennett’s idea of crime prevention.

Would Rosa Parks have been a more spiritual person if she’d compassionately moved to the back of the bus? Or was it, in fact, her compassion for the descendants of slaves who still suffer from “Christian” racists that made her so defiant? Should the thirsty and sick masses stranded in New Orleans by FEMA obediently practice acceptance and forgiveness or salvage whatever water and food they could from flooded markets, though the news people call it “looting?”

Patiently tolerating cruelty and injustice could not possibly please any God I can imagine. We have not only the right, but the responsibility to condemn the behavior of hostile, violent people. The admonition "Do not judge, or you too will be judged." (Matt. 7:1) refers to judging an individual as worthy of redemption or not. It does not mean we should not judge their mortal thoughts, feelings, speech, and behavior.

Let’s be clear. We must judge others, especially our so-called leaders. But we must judge them for what they say and do, without judging their identity as Souls incarnate — whether the Spirit Police understand the distinction or not.

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