The early part of my life was spent in the Bible Belt. As a child, living among the Cherokee version of the teachings of Jesus, I learned that the most important thing in my life was my relationship with my God and the care and feeding of my soul, however best I could do that.
Oh, of course, there were certain do’s and don’t’s that were supposed to facilitate my relationship with my creator like “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” “thou shalt not lie,” “honor your father and mother,” “thou shalt not kill” (I never understand quite the exemption for war, killing those who don’t agree with me. Or people unlike me – – the planet – – weren’t we supposed to honor all life?).
What I learned as a child was that we were responsible for the care and feeding of our souls. Other people could hurt us, try to destroy our reputations, try to starve us to death, destroy our bodies, take our possessions, do all manner of bad things to or against us and only we could damage our souls. That kind of damage was between us and our God (Creator, Allah, Center of our Being – whatever feels comfortable when you know that there is something greater than ourselves).
- Because we value that relationship, we would do our best never to do anything to harm or destroy that relationship.
I was also taught that we are human and, because we are human, we are imperfect, we will make mistakes. All humans make mistakes. And, I was also taught that it is our job to learn from those mistakes, make amends and do the best we can not to keep repeating the same mistake over and over again unless we were really stupid or something.
I was also taught that all of us – everyone – has a right and obligation to “speak our minds” AND to listen to others with open minds as they do the same.
Whether we like or disagree with something someone is saying, if we pay attention to the care and keeping of our souls, we have an obligation to listen as we might learn something important about ourselves or others which just might feed our souls.
I also heard in church that “money is the root of all evil.” That was a tough one as I knew money could do some good things. Yet, I have come to see that it is pretty much not so good when money and power are the basis as to why so many people do what they do. There is certainly something soul-shrinking about that.
Years ago, I decided that I would not do anything when the main reason was money or prestige. I did not have a lot of money and I had enough. So, I made an agreement with myself and my soul that I would not do anything that was not right for me for money or prestige. Now, to make this kind of agreement with oneself, I would say that one needs to have a pretty good relationship with oneself and one’s soul. Actually, when one develops a relationship with one’s self and one’s soul, life goes quite well indeed.
I decided that I would not write a book just for money. If that book did not seem like something I was “supposed to write or needed to write” I would not do it. I would not take a client I did not feel connected with or just because I needed money. I would not accept a speaking engagement or consultation just because of the money or prestige. I once put off accepting a speaking engagement from Harvard until I got very clear that I was not doing it for the “prestige” attached. It’s quite a thing for a person who started out in flour sack dresses in Watts, Oklahoma to be invited to speak at Harvard! I knew that if I did not have something I thought was important to say and needed to be heard, it would not be worth it. Since Watts, Oklahoma and the flour sack dresses, I have lived and worked all over this land and the world and I find that those values I learned there in the Bible Belt/Cherokee land have served me well.
When push comes to shove, my soul and my relationship with my creator are what I can count on and what are important to me.
How shocking it is to me to see men and women in Washington, DC – the “leaders” of this really, really great nation founded on principles of this native land – behave so badly. How shocking that we have elected “leaders” who are willing, from my perspective, to lose their souls for an ideology that says that it does not matter how you play the game as long as you “win.”
Losing our honor and our spirituality to “win” is sad and frightening.
As I said earlier, no one can sully my honor or my relationship with God except myself.
We must always ask, are we “successful” as human beings?
My great-grandmother, when we saw people behaving “badly” used to say to me, “Don’t judge them, Elizabeth Anne, they don’t know how to behave in a good way. We must pray for them.”
What if all of us who knew another way would do just that?
Pray for them?!