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Taking Sides by Gail Pursell Elliott

Posted February 2nd, 2013 by Nelson Tan. Filed under Self Development

“No tree has branches so foolish that they fight among themselves.” – Native American saying

In 1982 Mother Teresa was asked to sign a petition to ban nuclear proliferation. After some quiet consideration she refused. Her reason was that in taking sides on a controversy she would put herself in a position of loving some people and not loving others, which she felt she could not do.

Taking sides is a by-product of conditions. When we take sides we become the judge of who is worthy of our support and who is not, based upon behavior and surface criteria rather than insight and awareness. I promote dignity and respect for everyone, no exceptions. “No exceptions” means without conditions. When we take sides we enter into the game of polarization and separateness rather than inclusion.

There is another trap of judgement. What we notice or perceive in others must have a point of reference within us so that we can recognize it. Therefore, when we judge others by appearances or conditions we are really judging that part of ourselves that resonates with what we perceive. This is what is meant by the statement that we become our own adversaries.

Often we are asked or even compelled to take sides when two people or two groups are in conflict. If we do this we are then consciously becoming part of that conflict. We cannot become the observer and look beyond the surface to the substance. We become caught up in surface behavior and cannot look beyond to the substance of honoring individuals with dignity and respect. We become part of the problem rather than an instrument of insight, awareness, and healing.

It is how we perceive that makes all the difference to us. Even our concept of perfection is relative and filled with conditions that we create or adopt from other disciplines. Most of us humans are not perfect but in a state of evolution.

Since we are not perfect, we also have no idea what perfection looks like, sounds like, or feels like. Our perspective is flawed because it lacks points of reference. It is like trying to put together a huge jigsaw puzzle without seeing what the picture is going to look like when it is finished.

This is also the reason why we are told not to judge by appearances. Appearances are part of the conditional world and make it impossible for us to judge anything with accuracy. There are too many variables, too many conditions, too much or too little information, making it too easy to jump to conclusions. And of course the conclusions that we jump upon are based on our own experience, fears, doubts, uncertainties, or prejudices.

We cannot understand something until we experience or own it ourselves. Inappropriate actions on the part of others may confuse some of us. We simply cannot understand what motivates some of us to behave in certain ways.

There are two ways that we can approach this in terms of understanding. One is that we, to some degree, may commit a similar offense or we may experience something that causes us to at least want to do something similar. Insight and awareness then help us to understand where the other person may be “coming from” when they commit such actions. This is commonly called “empathy”.

The second is to view the person from the unconditional perspective. Unexplainable actions then do not have to be explained but rather observed and responded to as an opportunity to practice using one or more unconditional qualities. Here is part of a possible inner dialogue process.

“I don’t understand this but I know it is an opportunity for one or more of the following:”

Love
Help
Gratitude
Forgiveness

We cannot take advantage of these opportunities while we are taking situations personally or by taking sides, which is a function of the conditional world. When we move to the impersonal, we are moving towards the unconditional not by excusing, tolerating, judging or trying to understand negative appearances by focusing on them, but by looking beyond them.

If we accept the concept that we are all connected to each other without exception, we then understand that everything we do impacts all of us. What we do to others we are in truth doing to ourselves. The “golden rule” of treating other people the way we would like to be treated gains more significance from this perspective.

“In interactions with others, instead of trying to be right, why don’t we try being kind?” – Wayne Dyer

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” – Mother Teresa

Anticipate a great day. It’s Yours!

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