We Need to Recognize that We Are All Saints and We Are All Sinners | Peace Thoughts | Intergroup Institute
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We Need to Recognize that We Are All Saints and We Are All Sinners

We need to figure out how do deal with people who have done things in the past that we don’t approve of today.

We want to build a future that is at Peace with itself — and that gives us all the setting and interactions that will create the right world for ourselves, our children, our grandchildren, and their children.

To build that future, we need a present that is anchored on the right values, the right behaviors, and the right beliefs.

To be fully successful, we need to include all of us. We need everyone who wants that future to be able to join in making it happen.

That will mean not perpetually excluding people now for negative and even wrong past behaviors.

We could simply exclude people forever from the world we are building if they have done wrong things in the past, but that will give us a very challenging situation relative to creating inter group Peace today and in the future because it will exclude too many people who we need at the table to help us all succeed.

It will be much more difficult for us to make the right levels of intentional progress on inter group issues and to build a positive society and mutually supportive and inclusive community going forward if we assume perpetual rejection and continuously renewing condemnation for anyone who has sinned in any key areas of their prior life or past behaviors.

We should set the goal of continuous improvement for ourselves, for our community and for other people in our community, and we should assume that continuous improvement both means and accepts that we have not all been perfect for our entire lives because if we had been perfect, we would not have needed to improve.

Enlightenment on key values and issues should be a goal, a process, an aspiration, and a commitment we make to one another and we should recognize that we each have both flaws in earlier behavior and flaws in our earlier understandings and beliefs for both ourselves and for each other.

Enlightenment means that we are all accepting each other as people who should be mutually supportive, mutually respectful, mutually protective, and mutually agreeing to live lives committed to the core values that truly make America great.

We need people to become enlightened in a wide range of areas of our lives and to commit to both achieving our own goals and helping each other achieve the goals we all have.

Becoming enlightened in key areas should be our strategy as a country and we should do it in intentional and visible ways that create an intentional, respectful and explicit context for positive interactions as both individuals and groups in the future.

That is not where many people are today. We have some very negative inter group and inter personal behaviors in a number of settings.

We also have had many of those negative values and behaviors in our past.

We need this to be a time of learning.

We want people who have had negative beliefs and damaging behaviors to continuously improve both their behaviors and their beliefs and we need to do it by being very explicit about the behaviors and values we want to achieve.

That kind of enlightenment is a good goal, and it is entirely possible to do. But we can only do it if we figure out how to include everyone in the process who has both a good heart and good values in key issues today and who wants to be included in the process going forward from today.

No one is born perfect relative to our personal belief systems, our knowledge of appropriate and positive behaviors, or relative to a working array of correct and positive inter personal ethics and values for all of our relevant interactions.

We all make mistakes. We all say, do and think things earlier in our lives that we later learn or believe were wrong things to say or do at the time we did them.

Enlightenment is a learning process. It is also a growth process. It is not a birthright or an inherent and embedded state of being and intellectual or ethical awareness that we each have in the cradle and then simply use in its entirely in all of our interactions with one another over the years.

We are all values driven.

We all have a set of explicit core values that guide us and direct us as a functional paradigm at each given point in our lives, and those core values tend to evolve for each of us over time.

Wisdom is acquired — not inherited — and we need to be open to becoming wise.

We need to help each other with the acquisition of both wisdom and insight, and we need to be open to learning both wisdom and insight from the people around us.

We need to want people to be more enlightened on key issues and we need to welcome, accept, and very intentionally support both other people and ourselves when enlightenment happens for ourselves and for others.

Martin Luther, the founder of the Lutheran Church, made the point that we are all saints and we are all sinners. He contended that we each move between those levels of rightness at the individual level in very direct and predictable ways over the course of our lives and that none of us are locked into either path at any point in time.

His goal was for people to become enlightened about their beliefs, and then to very explicitly and intentionally choose saintly behaviors and values for their lives.

That sense that each of us is inherently both a sinner and a saint is a very useful perspective for us to hold as we move toward inter group understanding and inter group Peace as a country because we have a strong likelihood that we each will have done things in our sinning capacity that will make the other people in an inter group setting wary, distrustful, or even angry about us as individuals if they know what those things were and possibly are.

Enlightenment is a good and necessary thing for us all. None of us are perpetually saints — and none of us were born with our current set of beliefs, values, expectations, ethical and moral standards, and with our inter personal and inter group behavior patterns and choices fully in place.

One of the great joys and blessings of life is that we all get to be learners, and learning can be a wonderful and life enriching experience. Even the leaders of religions often have an enlightenment process for their own spiritual growth.

Buddha clearly had a very well identified moment of enlightenment, and many statues of Buddha reflect that moment.

Even Martin Luther had years of his life when his saintly side was not the primary guide for his behaviors.

Spiritual, ethical and intellectual growth are all pathways that give us opportunities to improve what we are, what we think, and what we do.

That raises the question — how do we act today in inter group settings if we are dealing with someone who we believe did negative, damaging, and even evil things in their personal life in the past. Do we refuse to interact with people who have done negative things in the past to other people in ways that we know happened?

We all have some exposure to that issue.

Because we have not all been perpetually perfect in all of those key areas in our own lives, the functional truth is that there are often areas for each of us in our own past life and in our own personal history where we may have been selfish, petty, cruel, self-centered, intolerant, prejudiced, discriminatory, abusive, intrusive, uncaring, greedy, and times where we did not personally have ethical values in place that respected, accepted, supported, and understood and included all of the people around us.

It is possible to be highly moral, ethical and accepting today — but to have that set of beliefs and behaviors to be something we learned or even earned in a process involving some levels of change. We each now want to interact with the world around us in the context of the person we are today.

Even if we are ethical, moral, caring, tolerant, and supportive people today, we all probably have times in our earlier life where we did, said, and even promoted and encouraged behaviors and beliefs about both ourselves and other people that are different and less enlightened than the beliefs we have today — and those earlier behaviors and beliefs qualified in many instances as various categories of sins.

We need to reach out to each other at this point and to have the people who truly do want the values of inclusive and mutually supportive inter group Peace to create an alliance, a movement, and a shared commitment to that goal and to those processes.

We need to include other people in that movement who have those same beliefs today — regardless of the beliefs they each held at any earlier point in their lives. We need a team now to achieve those goals and we need team members who can move past prior bad behaviors and negative beliefs into positive collective beliefs and efforts that will help us achieve Peace now.

Simply aspiring to Peace will not be sufficient to get us there.

We need to look at who we are, and who we have been, and we need to understand all of the negative things we have done to each other under the influence of our tribal and divisive instincts, and we need to set up a path to the future that can bring us together in ways that both our values and our instincts will support.

We need more than an aspiration. We need a plan. We need a plan and we need a commitment to that plan.

One way of getting to that goal would be for us all to understand the full array of instinctive behavior that has created our history and that will create our future if we don’t guide it, and we need to set some specific goals that will work with our instincts and the reality of this country to extend the American Dream to everyone down channels that will allow us to achieve that goal.

If we want to go forward now to create a country at Peace with itself, and that will give our children and grandchildren the successful and safe future we want them to have, then we need to make a commitment to three key approaches and goals for our community and people, and we need to understand exactly why those goals need to be what we do and say at this point in time.

Continuous Improvement is Strategy One

The first goal and commitment we all make to ourselves and to our country needs to be Continuous Improvement.

Continuous Improvement is a thought process, a strategy, a skill set, and a group and individual commitment.

Continuous Improvement calls for us to look at the situations and circumstances we are in today in all key areas of our lives, and we need to look at those situations from the perspective and context of being intentional and fully conscious process engineers to figure out ways of continuously improving our world and our behaviors and our interactions with one another.

Continuous improvement says that we are not just going to set goals and achieve them — but we are going to do things really well and then constantly work in intentional ways to do them better.

Win-Win Outcomes for Us All Is Commitment Two

The second major commitment that we should all make to each other and to ourselves is Win-Win.

We all win when we all win. Any strategy that involves either Win-Lose or Lose-Lose ends up with someone in our country losing — and the long-term consequences of having anyone lose are obviously dangerous, damaging, and wrong.

Winning is not a zero-sum game. It is possible for us all to do well, and we will be stronger, safer, happier, and much more mutually supportive when we all win. The InterGroup books describe how to achieve Win-Win outcomes.

We need to be entirely inclusive in our Win-Win approach, and we need to create processes that help all groups, each gender, and all relevant component parts of our society and community Win and Thrive in their settings.

Like Continuous Improvement, Win-Win is a strategy, a skill set, a set of processes, and a commitment we make to one another.

We need to be able to trust each other to have both continuous improvement and Win-Win outcomes as the commitment we make to one another — and we need to make that commitment for our children and for our grandchildren and for our great grandchildren, because they will live in a world of hatred and perpetual anger and damage if we allow ourselves to go down the inter group, instinct guided paths we see today in Gaza, Sri Lanka, Syria, the suburbs of Paris, and all of the other settings where inter group conflicts are triggering those emotions, values, belief systems and behaviors.

If we do not move in the direction of inclusion and Win-Win outcomes for very group, gender and community component, then our inter group instincts will dominate our thinking and emotions, and we will tribalize just like 125 other countries have done and our grandchildren will face grim, dysfunctional and dangerous lives — and our cities and communities will be just like Sri Lanka, Syria, and The Sudan and similar multi group countries in having very ugly and damaging interactions with the other groups in our country.

Commitment Three Is to Give Ourselves a Chance to Start Here and Make Progress

The Third major commitment that we need to make to one another to have a future of inter group Peace in America is to accept enlightenment and redemption from people who change what they believe and do — and move away from perpetual condemnation, rejection, and punishment for people who did the wrong thing or said the wrong things in any of their key inter group action areas earlier in their lives.

We need fresh starts for people who have grown emotionally, intellectually, ethically, morally, and behaviorally to more positive and more enlightened beliefs.

Fresh starts are not the same thing as forgiveness. Some sins are unforgivable. Some past behaviors are perpetually regarded as wrong behaviors. People who have done truly evil things and who have repented should have their repentance understood but not in a way that creates forgiveness for anyone who choses not to forgive.

For other negative past behaviors where the people today are truly not the same people at an ethical, moral and humane level that they were earlier in life, we need a do over and a fresh start.

For most prior inter group sins, we want and need people to become better people and we want people to change behaviors and beliefs and to be included and accepted into the society of people who share the more enlightened and mutually supportive beliefs.

We need to allow people who have become enlightened on key values and who have committed to the right behaviors and who accept those behaviors as the right behaviors to be part of the group of people who helps us all achieve Win-Win results and Continuous Improvement for our settings.

To get to that point, we will be well served if we all understand the huge impact that our instincts have on our lives. We need to understand our Us-Them instincts, our territorial instincts, our group loyalty and traitor condemnation instincts, our culture building instincts, and all of the other sets of instincts that shape our thoughts, values and emotions with such massive power every day of our life.

Knowledge is power.

We need that knowledge so we can have that power.

We need to commit to an inclusive and fully informed Peace Movement for America. This website outlines what that movement might look like.

We need to begin the process by agreeing to accept other people into that process who might have sinned in that past.

This piece explains why that is true. Please send responses if you either agree or disagree with this strategy.

If we exclude people from being part of that process, full inclusion will not happen and people will not be able to fully benefit from their own enlightenment and fully able to create a better world that is an offset and remediation for negative interactions and situations in the past.

Inclusion is good. The future is extremely important because it is where we will live the rest of our lives. Let’s build the best future we can, and let our past be a foundation rather than an anchor for what we become.



Knowledge is power. Let’s give ourselves that power and accept that we are all saints and all sinners and are now choosing saintly values to guide our lives.