Beliefnet
Everyday Spirituality

Last year, a local Town here in upstate New York started sponsoring a 5K Turkey Trot. It was held the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Needless to say, the turnout for the run was great. Many of the participants were thrilled to have this new community activity after overeating on Thanksgiving Day.

Another Turkey Trot is scheduled for this year. For those who don’t run or jog, the Town mapped out one mile for a Stroll.

Community members see this event as a replacement of the Village Days that, after decades, finally went defunct. I wonder, how does an event start out so good only to become such a burden?

Rituals, routines, and traditions can bring about goodness, however, change happens and if the traditions don’t adapt to the changes appropriately, more harm is done than good. Competition, misunderstandings, and ridiculous expectations can ruin the goodness. When the harm outweighs the benefits, we can fearlessly let go of the tradition and move forward with a new tradition.

From 21st Century Science and Health, “Humanity must learn that the influences of propaganda or crowd thinking are powerless. Crowd thinking is oppressive, but only a phase of nothingness. Christian Science devastates the vacuum of evil thinking and preeminently promotes good-will and virtue in families and therefore in the community.”

November 5, Election Day, is around the corner. Most people I talk to know the value of voting and will vote.

Interestingly, as a freelance writer, I interview candidates, some of whom I’ve interviewed in the last election. And, I’ve noticed their platforms have changed.

Change is happening all the time. We don’t want to vote for someone because we did last time, unless their track record is maintaining progress.

Too often, human beings are like large pendulums, swinging from one side to another. When it comes to politicians, special interests groups can cause them to flounder in their job of public service. It’s not a reason to get angry at our government, but a demand that we as voters stay on top of the current situations and vote accordingly. We don’t have to become political fanatics but can take our time and devote it to the important offices or referendums.

From 21st Century Science and Health, “Improvement comes as mindsets improve. World history illustrates the might of Mind and shows human power to be proportionate to its embodiment of right thinking or spiritual clarity. Words and actions, breathing the omnipotence of divine justice and wisdom, are what powerfully break the grip of discrimination, human agendas, and diminishing returns. Mental fogginess doesn’t go down in blood, nor does the breath of freedom come from the weapons of humans. Love is the liberator.”

Although it happened 40 years ago, I remember as if it happened last month.

Walking down the school bus isle, I stopped for a second to turn around and punch the guy behind me. He doubled over and gasped for breath. It all happened so fast, I not only stunned myself, but also shocked my seventh and eighth grade classmates sitting in the bus seats. No one said anything.

Was I a bully? Hardly. That jerk knew he shouldn’t have touched me inappropriately and so did our classmates. Watching him gasp for breath was enough to make me vow I’d never punch anyone again, even though he was the bully. He touched, and punched, everyone inappropriately. I probably learned how to punch watching him, because I sure didn’t learn it at home. My dad never even cussed.

October is recognized in many schools as bullying prevention awareness month. Youth are encouraged to stand up against bullying through anti-bullying projects and programs—programs we never had when I was a kid, at least not in the rural school I attended.

Researchers have piled high documentation that proves harm is related to bullying. Suicides, jail time, and low job status have been traced back to bullying. Yep, all that harm happened back in my day too. Kids were physically hurt, tears flowed, and individuals struggled with life. These effects are sad black marks on humanity.

The ramped up efforts to stop bullying is a step forward to a better humanity, but the step comes loaded. Too much talk or emphasis on bullying and the harmful consequences of bullying may lose sight of the fact you can’t have a bully without a victim, and you can’t have a victim without a bully. In other words, bullying, like the victim or the harm done, is an effect, not a cause.

To battle bullying as if it is a cause will not eliminate the problems. Benefits only come when the situation is seen in the light of effect. Unquestionably, it’s a trick to identify what looks like a cause and work with it as though it is an effect, but that is how we progress.

Let’s take a crop destroyed by weather—a drought. We presume the drought caused the crop destruction. In an effort to stop the destructive cause, weather is altered or manipulated, and we irrigate. However destruction continues because drought is an effect. So are frost, hail, pests, disease, or lousy farming techniques.

Psychology Today reports, “Bullies couldn’t exist without victims, and they don’t pick on just anyone, those singled out lack assertiveness and radiate fear long before they ever encounter a bully… No one likes a bully, but no one likes a victim either.”

Basically bullies can be defined as victims too, confirming they are effects, not causes. Both bullies and victims are tied to a long standing human history of fear, badgering, teasing, racism, chauvinism, stupidity, showing off, wanting attention, and sexual harassment. It’s enough to make one want to sit down and quit life. But we don’t. Human beings are resilient. We constantly become aware of who and what we are.

We are evolving. We have the right of equality. We can forgive. When false accusations are shot at us, we can bend over and let them fly over our heads and fall behind us dead. Or, we can take a stand for what is right, rather than who is right. We can learn better manners. We can be kind. We can think before we talk.

From 21st Century Science and Health, “Divine Science explains all cause and effect as mental, not physical. It lifts the veil of mystery from Soul and body. Science shows the scientific relation of person to God and unravels the interwoven ambiguities of being, setting free the imprisoned thought. In divine Science, the universe, including man and woman, is spiritual, harmonious, and eternal.”

Let me be blunt: revisions of religious texts, whether verbally or in print, are postmodern heresies. To which I say—Okay.

First off, languages and circumstances change. The lifestyle of today is not the lifestyle of yesterday. When attempting to apply religious texts in everyday life, those texts need to be adjusted to present day reality. We revise what we read in our heads, or in conversation, or through publication.

For example, in the Bible, we read that Moses told the children of Israel to bring offerings of animals or grain, to the Lord. The religious text has been revised dramatically. No longer do we insist on those offerings. Modern day society has shifted from an agrarian culture to one of industry and technology, diminishing access to animals and grain.

The old texts are revised because they violate our liberal mores. Society denounces as anti-Christian the slaughter of animals and the waste of grain. We instead offer the food to feed the starving. In other words, the revised version is heresy to the indigenous meaning.

Let me be clear: I am all for this heresy. But, let’s be honest about what we are doing. We can’t revise religious texts and believe or insist that that was their original intent. Revisions are designed to advance further the religious ideals that empower and train us to worship a God that promotes wisdom, justice, equality, and wellbeing.

Revisions do not replace the original. But we can submit to them to actualize the great and promising potential of religious texts.