Off to an interesting one-day business trip yesterday. The client lives in Reno, and my business partners are in Los Angeles, so we met for a day at Harris Ranch in the middle of the Central Valley of California.
Up at 5:30 AM, and into the car by 6. Then a stop for breakfast, and I got there a bit after 9. The client had driven in the night before, so we were talking and meeting by 10AM, and went through to 8PM. A very productive meeting. We had dinner at their restaurant which was outstanding--the best beef I've had outside of Nebraska. That's the upside.
The downside is found a couple of miles North of the restaurant. A huge feedlot, with up to 100,000 cattle waiting to be turned into hamburger. It's right along Interstate 5, and is almost enough to make me a vegetarian. The dust, smell, and general depressiveness of the place is hard to convey in words.
On the way down, I listened to Bernie Ward's program, GodTalk, on KGO radio. It's a 3-hour Sunday morning call-in show on religion that is often excellent. Since it is on from 6 to 9 AM, I don't catch it often... He was discussing the difficulties faced by Christians asked to go to war by their government when the Bible asks them to turn the other cheek and love their neighbor. Or, more properly, he was discussing the apparent lack of difficulties that many people, including clerics, are having rendering unto Caesar and ignoring Christian teachings. "If your neighbor hates you, hate him back, bigger!" seems to be the prevailing attitude.
Like all good programs, this program made me think. So here's how I see it. It's a fact of life that there are in the world events such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and terrorist attacks. When these events happen, we must first look to the victims and then rebuild, with particular emphasis on preventing damage from such events in the future. In the case of terrorists, we must find them and immobilize them so that they can do no further harm.
I don't see why there is any role for hate in this. We don't hate hurricanes and earthquakes. It's not a surprise that there are people like Bin Laden who have been working for years to bring terror to the United States. He even made an earlier attempt on the World Trade Center. I can work up a bit of emotion over the government agencies that have spent billions of dollars and were seemingly unable to learn about this latest attack in time to prevent it. They are like the building inspectors whose incompetence or corruption caused buildings to be built below code, and thus suffer in an earthquake or hurricane--we need to repair our national terrorist immune system. But even so, there still isn't a role in my life for hate in any of this.
I am a great believer in "what goes around, comes around." Or otherwise said, what you put out into the world comes back to you multiplied. I strive in my personal life to put out love, respect for others, and a positive attitude, and I have found that to the extent that I am successful at this I live in a loving, respectful, and positive world. My hardest struggle is to eliminate judgment, because when I judge others I find myself judged, and I don't want to live in that kind of a world.
I think this works for countries as well as people.
We are a nation founded by Puritans, and largely populated by Europeans, all of whom are very good at judgment. As a nation we judge other nations all the time--we tell them how to run their political system and courts, how to treat women and minorities, how to manage their population, how to get along with their neighbors, etc. And so we invite judgment, some of it quite negative, from other nations. Duh.
And look what else we put out there--violence. I watch very little television and attend few movies, because I do not choose to be subjected to people shooting each other, blowing each other apart in spatters of blood and gore, and the increasingly ornate ways that moviegoers get terrorized by movie plot lines. My life works quite well without that. We have even made movies of terrorists taking over and destroying large buildings. And we export this violence to the entire world. Why are we surprised, then, when we reap what we have sown in Columbine and the World Trade Center bombings?
There is so much challenge in my life to live up to my ideals, do things that help others and the planet, and gain increasing wisdom about my earlier life choices and their consequences to me now. I find this challenge, and the similar challenges of those close to me, to be as gripping and fascinating as any movie, play, opera, or novel, despite being carried out largely internally. And I have learned that hate is poison, and forgiveness is the antidote. An old message, mouthed more often than lived, perhaps, but it works for me.
Thank you for reading.