Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Competing Realities: Grace, Atonement and Charity Are Key

I was asked once why people hurt other people "by avoiding reality" instead of dealing with difficult things.  My most concise response was that it is because they are human, and humans only can handle those things which they can handle.

My longer answer would be:

Most people aren't consciously lying or avoiding reality when they hurt others. They simply are dealing with what they are capable of seeing and feeling - and I don't mean to be condescending or judgmental in saying that. In my case, part of my being comfortable with uncertainty is admitting I might be wrong, especially about things that require me to make some kind of subjective judgment, and that is truer in the realm of religion than anywhere else - but I still have hurt others at times because the way I see things (my reality) simply is different than the way those others have seen things (their realities).

A practical example:

Some people believe in "tough love", while others believe in never alienating others almost no matter what they do. Neither is lying or refusing to face reality; rather, they simply are seeing what they see and acting on it.

At the most basic level, "reality" is whatever it is for each and every person. When a schizophrenic is hallucinating, those hallucinations are reality to him. I mean that completely; they are reality to that person while they are occurring. When he hurts others in that situation, he isn't avoiding reality; he is reacting to reality - living within his own reality.

Thus, for all of us, grace and atonement are critical - and charity is the heart of it all. 

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