There but for the grace of God go I. It’s a phrase I’ve heard often, and maybe not given it as much weight as it deserves. If you look it up, the definitions include:
1. used to acknowledge one's good fortune in avoiding another's mistake or misfortune.
2. variants: ‘it is only through God's grace or factors beyond my control that I have not suffered the fate of someone more unfortunate than myself’; typically expressing variously sympathy, understanding, or gratitude.
I’ve had a lot weighing on my mind and my heart lately. Sometimes there just isn’t enough time in the day to really reflect on things that need some deep thought. Luckily however, I find myself having a couple of unexpected days off. Coincidence? I think not!
When I have mornings where I do not have to rush, I usually spend a few extra minutes at the barn getting chores done, feeding, talking to the horses and the cat, etc.. it’s the perfect time to think. But my thoughts were not on this phrase this morning, not at first. That came later as I was finishing up. My thoughts were on the way the world has changed so much since I was a kid. How family dynamics have changed. Parents aren’t parents anymore, they want to be their kid’s friends. Discipline has become a dirty word. Everyone has the right to express themselves as they want, no matter how it affects those around them or society as a whole, unless they are expressing their religious beliefs.. God forbid! Political battles are fought and never won. And then there is the internet..
In my day, if someone had an issue with you, as kids, we took it out behind the school and settled it. But if you got caught, you got your butt kicked both at school, and when you got home. If an adult had a problem with someone, they confronted that person, in person, and the problem was settled, or maybe not, but it didn’t linger in cyberspace for all of eternity, becoming like that old kids game where you tell someone something, then they tell the person next to them, and so on, and so on, until you get back to the beginning of the circle. Does the statement ever end the way it began? Rarely, if ever. Back then, it pretty much ended there. Today, it recycles over, and over, and over, being shared thousands or even millions of times. Sometimes the story is added to, or sometimes the story wasn’t factual to start with. But hey, if they say it on FB then it must be true, right?
And then there is social media shaming.. i.e.. people of Walmart or other like groups. Someone takes a snapshot of someone they don’t even know, but appears be an easy target, posts it on social media with a snarky remark, and wah lah. Instant cyber bullying for millions of people’s fun and enjoyment. If its not someone you know, you think it’s funny and you share it without even a thought that that is a person, with a family, friends, and good old fashioned feelings. Throwing stones, creating ripples, destroying lives.
What about gossip? This often goes back to that kids game. Someone gets a tidbit of a story, embellishes it to make it a little more dramatic, pass it on. People might repeat that version of the story to someone in an actual conversation, then that person posts the embellished story on social media, adding a little more to make it even more exciting. Maybe its just to make themselves feel more important, who knows. How many times is that process repeated until the narrative no longer has any resemblance to what actually happened? And it happens so fast these days. There was another phrase people used to use for gossipers.. “Tel-e-phone, tel-a-graph, tell __________ (fill in the blank).
Next comes the judgement. Someone sits on their high horse, passing judgement on others, not considering the blur from that high perch, and not considering what is going on in their own barn. I think judging others somehow makes themselves feel better about their own situations. If they can make the story bad enough, it shines less light on their own problems. Who cares who is getting hurt, as long as they feel better. I believe those people have darkness in their hearts that further drives the chaos in their lives. Hate breeds more hate.. it’s a vicious cycle.
And finally, when people get tired of it or annoyed about the rhetoric, there is another phrase that gets thrown out there “Karma is a bitch”. The comfort in that is the feeling that eventually the person you are mad at will pay, and pay big. Actually I don’t believe Karma is a bitch. I believe she is more like Lady Justice. If you are constantly judging someone for an action or a mistake, or purposely creating harm for others, then eventually that will somehow play out in your life, either for you or someone you love. It’s not down and dirty, its subtle, its familiar, is similar to what you were judging someone else for. The good thing is, If you realize Karma’s lesson then you most likely will not have to repeat it. You will learn and grow from it. But often, that is not what happens, so the vicious cycle continues.
As I am rambling all of these thoughts through my head, and thinking about things that are going on around me, both close to home and the shooting in Florida yesterday, as well as reflecting on how dangerous our own little town has become, that is when it hit me.. actually it was my spirit guides that hit me with the message.. finally, you have my attention guys! There but for the grace of God go I. Be thankful and gracious in what I have, even in troubled times, because others are not so fortunate.
I don’t believe that every bad thing that happens to you is a result of Karma. I believe bad things happen to good people for many different reasons; be it a lesson for you, or someone close to you. A turn of events that is meant to change the course of other people’s lives, a rude awakening that is long past due. There are a number of reasons, but I believe there is always a reason. However, that is not the track I am on here, not at this moment.
I am looking at the world around me and wondering “WTH?” Why are so many people so angry? Why do some live solely to inflict pain on others. What pleasure do they get out of hurting someone else?
The failure is when we refuse to recognize that sometimes people make mistakes. Sometimes they have a lapse in judgement, be it an action, an outfit, hairstyle or whatever. But who are you to judge? Unless your barn is super sparkly, don’t point out the manure in your neighbor’s stalls. We all make mistakes, we all have lapses in judgement, we are human, and mistakes are how we learn.
I don’t question mistakes normally, I question peoples responses to them. Do you react harshly, lashing out even when the situation has nothing to do with you, or do you reach out with kindness and understanding? Do you intentionally try to make the lives of others miserable, or do you seek to make the world a better place? It’s a choice. You make a choice to be happy, every day. Or you make a choice to go out and create havoc and heartache. Do you lift others up, or push them down and walk over them? Are you happy or are you miserable? The answer to that last question is most likely determined by the answers to the first few.
If your defense to a negative action is that you “believe in something”, and you are trying to prevent it from continuing, your thinking is upside down. You cannot create a positive outcome to a negative situation with a negative action. It just doesn’t work that way. You go out and you do something by learning as much as you can and then helping others. You change minds, laws, opinions and situations by sharing informed views, and by giving of yourself to bring about a better future.
One of my favorite quotes is from Mother Teresa, and it fits here perfectly. She said “I was once asked why I don’t participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.”
Are you Anti-?? or are you Pro-?? Think about it and remember.. There but by the grace of God go you..