Fear and Honesty

Jul 31
2009

The municipal officials looked just like little Hitlers as they strutted into the hearing room. They refused to look at us. The first one on the stand stated my client should camp out in his tenants’ yard to make sure the tenants behaved.

I can’t say I felt fear before the hearing, but I did feel tension. I was not primarily a litigator, this was not my usual territory, and I wasn’t familiar with the procedures or personalities of that particular municipality before I stepped into the hearing room. 

I had, however, prepared both law and facts thoroughly. As the hearing progressed, it became obvious that the municipal officials were familiar with neither. 

I knew the police chief’s list of violations was inconsistent with the notices he had sent my client. After he haughtily read his opening testimony listing all the violations of which my client was guilty, I simply asked him to show me where my client had received notice of the violations. He spent a full two minutes looking through his file. Every eye in the hearing room was on him. 

Both my client and I sat respectfully silent while he looked, but we were both chuckling inside. Finally, he had to admit on the record that my client had never received notice. The police chief’s arrogance suddenly evaporated. 

The Code Enforcement Official, hands trembling, testified that the last time he had viewed my client’s property was over four months ago. He nevertheless adamantly stated that the property did not meet the Code requirements as of the hearing date. Did I hear that right? 

When I asked him how he could possibly testify that my client’s property didn’t meet Code requirements today when he hadn’t viewed it for four months, he backed down, retracted his statement, and suddenly started testifying honestly. Interestingly enough, his hands also stopped shaking.

Resisting Evil

Jul 25
2009

A visitor to one of my other websites, http://wordsculptures.com, asked an interesting question:

“Do you resist evil 100%? Does the impulse come to resist, and what do you do with the impulse?”

What do we mean by the word “evil”?

Personally, I don’t much like that word. It smacks of judgment, and judgment is not my job. Discernment, however, is.

Discernment is just noticing and making choices about how I am going to respond to behavior I prefer to call “dysfunctional.” Dysfunctional behavior is behavior that is win/lose. Functional behavior is win/win. That means doing the best I know how to bring harmony into a conflicted relationship or situation. Sometimes, I just have to walk away. That, in itself, often leads to harmony, as well as a lesson to the person who is stuck in win/lose thinking.

As far as impulses go, I always notice them and listen to them, but I rarely act out on them. Instead, I make choices about them. It’s called “being the witness.” Impulses and emotions are generally bringing me a message I need to hear, decipher, and understand. Once I understand what I need to change in my own life to restore peace and harmony, I can make a conscious choice about the appropriate action to take. It is never about taking action against another. It may be about protecting myself from dysfunctional people and situations.

By making choices about how I am going to change, I put my power back where it belongs – in my own hands.

Spirituality and Religion

Jul 17
2009

Spirituality is an attitude, a consciousness, a way of seeing life. Religion is an attempt to put spirituality into words – an effort that can never be adequately accomplished because of the nature of words. Words divide. Spirituality is whole and integrated. Words are only reflections. While often, they can guide the seeker to Truth, they are not Truth. Using words to communicate the spiritual experience and consciousness is like trying to hammer a nail using a screwdriver.

A major reason we have war is because some people set their own words up as Truth and then fight with others who have set up different words as Truth. The fact is that neither has evolved to a consciousness where they understand that words are a means to an end, not an end in themselves. This is the huge danger of religion. Religious doctrines are created to codify the spiritual experience and guide the seeker to it, yet in the process of codifying it, they frequently destroy it. Used correctly, religious doctrines guide one’s own actions. They should never be used to control the actions of others.

The spiritual experience is pure awareness, beyond dualistic words, beyond my words, beyond the word “awareness.” And yet it can also include dualistic words. Sometimes, it needs to because they can be wonderful catalysts when used in context to shift energy. They just pop up and they’re there. 

Despite the inadequacy and imperfection of words, we have to put them out there in the best way we know how. It is through putting our words out there and engaging in dialog that we clarify, both for ourselves and others.