Buddhist teacher, Jack Kornfield, reminds us that we have the ability to turn toward our own innate goodness. At any given moment, pressed between the stresses of daily life, we can actually choose to turn toward that essential goodness that lies within. If we make that inward turn and see our own goodness, we then have choices to make about what we do with it.
I buy this advice, but I also have to notice that I live in a culture that largely seems not to buy this advice. We live in a culture that takes its psychological and spiritual launching pad from a tradition that says that we are essentially bad. Your religion doesn’t matter in this regard. If you grew up in the US, you have been breathing the atmosphere that says “we are all bad.”
The practice of peace begins with how we choose to view ourselves. Am I essentially broken, bad, flawed? If so, this will filter how I view all other human beings. Am I essentially a being capable of choice, of freedom, of both good and bad? If this is how I choose to see myself, it will filter how I view all other human beings.
Peace does begin at home, in the self, with me. But, living in the culture that we do, peace for another person may begin with me as well. Imagine the possibilities in a school classroom where the teacher has chosen to see each student as capable of choice, freedom, good and bad. Imagine the trust we can inculcate in our relations when we turn toward our inherent goodness. We can help others do that. The work of peace can begin, today, with where and how we each choose to look–at ourselves.
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Very good reminder of the choice between seeing the inherent good in people and ourselves. Growing up in a fundamental Baptist church, I was told every Sunday how Jesus died for “our sins”. It has been hard to shake the feeling that I am just a “sinner” and not a person with choices that can be good or bad for myself and others.
A loud, resounding YES!!!
Thank you, Bob, for articulating this so beautifully. Embracing the truth that human beings are inherently good is life-changing, and thereby reality-changing. And thereby world-changing.