We Need to Recognize that We Are All Saints and We Are All Sinners
To create Peace for America, we need to figure out how to 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 settings and the interactions that will create the right and best world for ourselves, our children, our grandchildren, and their children as they ultimately replace us as a nation and a people.
To build a beneficial and positive future, we need a present that is clearly anchored on the right values, the right behaviors, and the right beliefs for us all.
We definitely need to be inclusive in bringing people into that future together to create collective support and Peace.
We can’t succeed if we are only one hand clapping.
We need to include everyone who should be included in order to fully achieve our goals in the most appropriate and inclusive ways to give everyone the best set of opportunities for leading good and useful lives in our communities.
We need everyone who wants and supports that enlightened and positive future and who personally believes in those enlightened and inclusive values to be able to join with us all in making it happen. We want everyone who supports those values, beliefs and behaviors to be part of the population and community so that we can all both enjoy its benefits and blessings, and collectively support keeping and protecting it as our new way of interacting and of being part of our collective future.
We want a wide range of people in every setting to be supportive of us doing the right things for the right reasons on all of the issues of inter group Peace and gender related acceptance and equity that we decide to set as our goals, expectations for each other, and commitments to one another, and we need to include all of those people in our community to succeed in making it our new reality as a people.
To create that inclusive agenda for our community, we need to make important decisions about both who to include and who to exclude from the process going forward.
Some people do deserve to be excluded from the community that we are building now because those people did things in their lives that we can’t accept as a community at this point in time.
We want and need people to grow in both awareness and enlightenment — and we need to set up our future interactions to encourage and support that growth. We want people who have been misogynistic, for example, to become enlightened on that set of beliefs and we want them to change both behaviors and beliefs.
We can set up approaches both to recognize prior misogyny and to support enlightened new beliefs and moral growth on those issues for people who had clearly wrong behavior in those areas in the past.
We should hold prior functional behavior to some different standards based on the nature of that behavior.
Crimes were wrong.
We should set the standard that says that people who committed sexual crimes should not be accepted into the new community just by changing prior beliefs about those crimes.
Rapists and physical abusers should go through whatever criminal processes are appropriate to their own case and then there could be a process down the road at some point that works like the wonderful and very effective Reconciliation Commission that was set up by Bishop Desmond Tutu and President Nelson Mandela in South Africa to deal with those more serious offences. That was an excellent process for South Africa and we should look to see where we would benefit from having some version of that Commission for our future interactions.
We don’t need the reconciliation Commission to be activated for every offence or statement, however. We need people who have been racist and misogynistic and who have exhibited various gender related negative behaviors that were not actually criminal to become enlightened and then we could allow them to rejoin the community as full participating members to build the future of support and respect that we want to be our new mode of interaction with one another.
That approach will mean that we will need to decide now not to perpetually and permanently exclude all people who have sinned at this point in time as a society for the negative, unenlightened and even functionally and ideologically wrong past behaviors earlier in their lives.
We need to face the cold and true reality that bad things were said, thought and done by real people in a number of settings.
People have sinned.
The fact that people have sinned is a sad reality of life.
We need to decide now whether or not those sins should and will keep those people from ever being accepted into the community that we are creating as the new American Us.
We could just say no forever for each person who has committed any level of prior sins.
We could decide to clearly exclude some people forever from the world and American society that we are building if they have done wrong things in the past, and have those people not included in our conversations, interactions, and sense of community as a new American Us.
If we exclude too many people too broadly based on prior behaviors and all relevant sins, that will give us a very challenging situation relative to creating inter group Peace today and in the future with the relatively small number of people who would still be in the process and available to set the foundation for future Peace.
That will be a challenge because if we functionally exclude too many people in our settings who we both want and need at the table to help us all succeed and who now personally and currently believe what we want people to believe on those issues and who are currently and personally doing what we want people to do relative to those behaviors, then we will not actually recognize their growth and achievement and we will lose their input into our future community for areas where they could add real value.
Enlightenment should be a goal for each and all of us.
We should want and encourage and help people to become enlightened.
We should encourage both growth and enlightenment by large numbers of people in those areas of their lives and our lives.
The hard truth is — we actually all are imperfect people.
None of us are perfect in those particular ways.
None of us walked out of the nursery or out of our family childhood home with all of the right values, the right behaviors, and fully correct and well-informed beliefs that we want everyone to have today as adults.
We have all had things to learn on those feelings, beliefs, and issues.
We all have had our moments and our times of sin and error, if we assume any non-enlightened behavior and any negative and prejudicial values and beliefs and perceptions about other people or other groups of people to be a sin.
Everyone has had times of prejudicial thinking about other people and their gender, ethnicity, family alignment, group, belief system, or other categories of definitions that exist for other people as groups and who are relevant to our world.
One of our great strengths is that we have the ability to create categories of Us that activate and trigger our best sets of instincts relative to people we perceive to be Us
We can activate that sense of us at various effective functional levels for our communities, our families, our schools, our athletic team alignments, our professional and work category alignments, and a vast number of other collective grouping categories that all can situationally give us the sense of being part of each group and a sense of common direction and mutual support. We each have our own particular core group identity as a people that defines us most clearly as an Us to ourselves — and then we can also have a vast array of other group alignments that activate those positive group instincts in very positive ways that allow us to function as communities and settings.
That group identity process as an Us is a very good thing to do and to activate. It also, however, gives us definitions for each alignment grouping of who is not us for that setting.
Our sense of alignment as Us also tends to give us a sense of who is Them in each setting — and we all have a very seductive set of emotions and sometimes dangerous thoughts that get triggered fairly easily far too often by the perception of Them in any setting.
That set of instinctive group identity thoughts carries over very broadly into our lives in ways that sometimes cause us to be discriminatory and prejudicial against any relevant Them.
That is fine as long as we don’t use that set of alignments to do evil things to Them. We have an ability to suspend ethics and to avoid conscience when we strongly perceive someone to be a Them.
Those instincts are in our lives every day, and it is highly unlikely that any of us achieved adulthood without having them affect our thought process about other people in our settings in both positive and negative ways.
We all go through a growth process on all of those beliefs and issues and our communities are based on us figuring out how to have those beliefs and emotions guiding what we think and do at multiple levels.
We are all both sinners and saints by our nature as human beings and we act accordingly.
We have all had times and settings and situations when we were saints.
We have all also had times when we were sinners.
That creates a context for us as we try to achieve a Peaceful community as an increasingly diverse country that has some prior levels of both saintly and sinful behavior in our past.
We are trying to create inter group Peace today as part of that process. We have had a year when the George Floyd murder and the Me-Too movement have both caused us to rebase several of our key beliefs as a country in what are directionally very enlightened ways. That new awareness on those issues gives us a foundation at several levels about going forward to do some foundational Peace and gender-related behaviors. Part of the opportunity we have will be enhanced if we decide now and going forward is how to deal going forward with the sins of past behavior in people who are part of the American community we want to be part of in the future, but who have clearly sinned.
That question creates a very real issue and maybe problem and even barrier for the Peace and Equity processes.
Some people do not want prior sins by other people either accepted or forgiven at any point in time.
There is deep anger today in many settings on a number of issues — and some people today believe that we should make at least part of that anger that reflects other people’s prior sins a permanent part of who we are and what we do and who we deal with on those issues.
Some people believe that we should exclude people forever for any clear prior sin in the past.
We could choose that approach and say that anyone who did a major and clear sin at any time should not be part of our group now and that anyone with any of those sins in their past should not join in or ever lead any part of our group in the future.
That decision would have potential negative consequences relative to our quest for American Peace.
Permanent exclusion for people who have sinned would probably significantly limit the number of people we would have going forward in our community and group — depending on how widely we define the sins.
It will be much more difficult for us to make the right levels of intentional progress on a number of inter group issues and it will be much harder to build a positive society and to build and sustain mutually supportive and inclusive community going forward if we assume perpetual rejection and if we enforce continuously renewing condemnation for anyone who has sinned in any key areas of their prior life or past behaviors.
That approach of permanent condemnation would also not encourage people to grow in those ways, because of the consequences of going down that path.
The truth is —
That’s a good thing.
We should want that change to happen.
We should want people who have bad values, bad behaviors, and bad beliefs to change those values, behaviors, and beliefs.
Most religions seek converts. Religions sometimes both guide and encourage change as part of the conversion process.
Most religions actually want people to become enlightened and to have conversion and alignment experiences in their lives. Converts are welcomed into many religious settings and religions tend to welcome what they endorse as enlightenment experiences.
We need to decide now if we want to adopt that model and goal for our Peace movement and for our other sets of ethical, moral, intellectual and societal values and behaviors.
Do we want people who were racist, for example, to stop being racist — and what do we want to do about either prior racist behavior or beliefs when someone goes through a conversion experience and is not racist today?
Prior beliefs that have now changed in enlightened and accepting ways might be an easy decision for future inclusion — but people who have prior history of behaviors that did real damage in racist, sexist or misogynistic ways to other people might be held to a different standard based on the severity of the behaviors.
Behaviors and beliefs might lead down slightly different paths for conversions for some people.
For both gender issues and racism issues, prior damaging behaviors might be held to a different standard when they are known and dealt with in the context of relevant laws about those behaviors.
But damaging beliefs should probably be held to a different standard because the goal of both religions and intellectually and ethically enlightened value sets is generally to increase and encourage enlightenment and we might want to celebrate, encourage and then support conversions rather than perpetually condemn each person’s past beliefs.
We want people to continuously improve as both a society and as a belief system.
Continuous improvement should be our explicit and intentional goal.
We should set a very clear and explicit goal and collective strategy of continuous improvement for ourselves, for our community and for other people in our community.
We should assume that having a goal of 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 now or in the past.
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 that we should figure out how to continuously improve in our personal and collective sets of beliefs.
Enlightenment means in part that we are all now 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.
Prior levels of very legitimate unhappiness and anger about prior wrong and sinful behavior make that hard to do. We have a history of some very negative inter group and inter personal behaviors in a number of settings, that we can’t just ignore at this point in time, and the anger from those prior wrongs is being felt in both public protests and serious movements toward less racist and sexist behaviors in our communities and settings.
We need to reflect that reality.
We definitely 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 have said, done, and thought 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. Being enlightened 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.
Being enlightened needs to be a goal and a process — and the process needs to put our intellect in charge of our beliefs, instincts and cultures, rather than having our lives shaped by our unquestioned and unchallenged cultures and motivated by instinctive emotional responses.
We should take control of that process as soon as we can get the support to do exactly that from our communities and our relevant group settings.
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. We need to steer those values now in the right directions for us all to create a win-win society for us all.
Wisdom is acquired — not inherited — and we need to be open and accepting for the process of becoming wise, and then use our wisdom to steer our lives.
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.
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 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 clearly had 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 in peaceful and intentional 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, a collective belief, 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.
We need fresh starts for people who have personally and individually 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 chooses not to forgive.
For other sets of 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, our tribal 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 and that have steered us into both positive and negative behaviors and beliefs without us even being award that they have been running our lives.
The core truth that the InterGroup Understanding books point towards is the fact that our instincts shape our thinking, our emotions, our behaviors, and our beliefs. We need to understand each of them so that we can use them in enlightened ways to steer our lives to being caring, supportive, extremely well informed, and mutually supportive people.
Knowledge is power.
We need that knowledge about that entire process so we can have that power over our own lives and to help the people we care about with their lives.
Peace should be an anchor part of that agenda.
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.
As part of that process, we need to figure out how to accept people who did stupid and racist things in college and who are not racist now into full acceptance in to our new American Us. We also need to accept people who had significant gender discrimination beliefs and behaviors in the past into the opportunity to be gender appropriate and accepted in the future.
We need people who are more enlightened today to be both accepted even celebrated for their personal growth — and we want everyone from every group to win as we go through life together down all of the paths we have in front of us. Win-Win should be a major goal. We need to understand Win-Win and make it both a commitment and a skill set.
We also need continuous improvement to be a commitment and skill set and a goal.
Both are possible.
Let’s give ourselves that power and let’s accept that we are all saints and we are all sinners and we are now choosing saintly values and behaviors now to guide our lives.