I have been heavy of heart this week. I will not go into the details, but the details brought on larger topics for my brain to digest.
As I write this, please do not think I am taking any moral high-ground on this issue. I suck at this, but it is something towards which I am working.
Assholes get ahead in life. There I said it. Nice people finish last. There it is again. It makes me angry when I see hard-working, HONEST people getting shit-on while butt-kissing nincompoops ride the gravy train. This is corporate injustice, and it is rampant. Corporations want ne’er-do-wells that will say yes and bow down at the altar of the corporation, no matter the moral implications of where the corporation is headed. Did we learn nothing from Enron or Bernie Madoff?
I am not talking about me, or where I work specifically. I am speaking in generalities. This is yet another very unscientific life observation I am making here.
It makes me want to mount a steed and ride out of the forest to correct the injustice. I want to level the playing field. I want the meek to inherit the earth. I want to uncover the truth. I want justice and fairness and all those things promised in morality tales (I am a very naive person). But that is not the way it works in the real world. Corporations and football teams and churches will overlook abhorrent behavior to keep an asshole ass-kissing top-earner in place. There is no integrity. There is no doing what is correct. There is only protecting the organization. Anyone that calls shenanigans from within is the enemy …stigmatized …eliminated.
Of course, then there are the assholes that are your neighbors (I have a doozie right now), or some guy in a parking lot, or your cousin.
The struggle I have had is trying to love them. Yes, love them when all I want to do is punch people like that in the nose, or at least tell them to go fuck themselves. Face to face is the hardest place to practice kindness. It is so much easier to show kindness from afar by writing a check to help a starving child in Africa, because you do not have to check your own behavior.
I am not religious, but I am moral. I take from many religions and ethical beliefs and live by a moral code of my own making. One of my central precepts is to be kind to people. What I struggle with is when religions and moral teachings speak of loving your enemy. Having compassion for them. Knowing they suffer. Knowing they are not all bad. Not punching them in the nose or telling them to go fuck themselves.
It all seems so unfair. Where is the karma/dharma. Where is social justice. Do nice people really finish last? Is it because we do not stick up for ourselves?
I saw this FB status today from Buddhist Monk Pema Chodron:
We act out because, ironically, we think it will bring us some relief. We equate it with happiness. Often there is some relief, for the moment. When you have an addiction and you fulfill that addiction, there is a moment in which you feel some relief. Then the nightmare gets worse. So it is with aggression. When you get to tell someone off, you might feel pretty good for a while, but somehow the sense of righteous indignation and hatred grows, and it hurts you. It’s as if you pick up hot coals with your bare hands and throw them at your enemy. If the coals happen to hit him he will be hurt. But in the meantime, you are guaranteed to be burned.
Wow, that’s some tough stuff right there. It got me just as I was thinking about writing this blog. It is in my nature to want to fight for justice. I am a wave maker. But taking it out on a person is only a momentary fix. The problem will remain. The problem is that the asshole is suffering too. They are just making it by too. They just may be doing it in a way that also makes you suffer. And that’s the rub…when their suffering makes you suffer.
After I read that, I looked for some more text on dealing with assholes (enemies). I found this from a speech MLK delivered at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church Montgomery, Alabama, November 17, 1957. MLK was up taking on evil and injustice some in the world, as we know. Blatant long-term institutionalized racism is the kind of corporate bullshit I am talking about. It is just more hidden and insidious now. It has changed forms for the modern world, but it is still there:
Another way that you love your enemy is this: When the opportunity presents itself for you to defeat your enemy, that is the time which you must not do it. There will come a time, in many instances, when the person who hates you most, the person who has misused you most, the person who has gossiped about you most, the person who has spread false rumors about you most, there will come a time when you will have an opportunity to defeat that person. It might be in terms of a recommendation for a job; it might be in terms of helping that person to make some move in life. That’s the time you must not do it. That is the meaning of love. In the final analysis, love is not this sentimental something that we talk about. It’s not merely an emotional something. Love is creative, understanding goodwill for all men. It is the refusal to defeat any individual. When you rise to the level of love, of its great beauty and power, you seek only to defeat evil systems. Individuals who happen to be caught up in that system, you love, but you seek to defeat the system.
So at the end of this discussion, I am still left with the urge to punch my neighbor in the nose and tell him to go fuck himself. He makes my living situation uncomfortable. He makes my wife nervous. But punching him in the nose or telling him to go fuck himself will only give me fleeting satisfaction. He will go back to his assholeness, and I will go back to being angry. The situation will not change.
I do not know how to feel compassion for his suffering because I am dwelling on my own and how his affects my own.
Today I am trying to look past my own stuff, staring over the precipice into another valley.
Again, I suck at this. I do not punch him in the nose or tell him to go fuck himself. But I am left feeling like a should.