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 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 that beneficial and positive future, we need a present that is clearly anchored on the right values, the right behaviors, and the right beliefs.

We definitely need to be inclusive in bringing people into that future together to create collective support and Peace.

We need to include everyone who should be included in order to fully achieve our goals in the most appropriate and inclusive ways.

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 they did things in their lives that we can’t accept as a community at this point in time.

We want 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 to recognize prior misogyny and to support enlightened new beliefs and moral growth on those issues.

We should hold prior functional behavior to a different standard.

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 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.

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.

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 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 sins, that will give us a very challenging situation relative to creating inter group Peace today and in the future.

That will be true because if we functionally exclude too many people 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 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.

The hard truth is — we actually all are imperfect people.

None of us walked out of the nursery or 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 all had things to learn.

We also 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.

One of our great strengths is that we have the ability to create categories of Us that trigger our best sets of instincts. We can do that for our communities, our schools, our athletic team alignments, our professional and work category alignments, and a vast number of other categories that all give us the sense of being part of each group and a sense of common direction and mutual support. We each have our core group identity as a people that defines us to ourselves — and then we have a vast array of other group alignments that activate those positive group instincts in very positive ways.

That is a very good thing to do. It also, however, gives us definitions for each alignment grouping of who is not us for that setting.

Our sense of alignment as Us tends to give us a sense of who is Them — and we all have a very seductive set of emotions and thoughts that get triggered by the perception of Them.

That 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 all go though a growth process on all of those beliefs and issues.

We are all both sinners and saints by our nature as human beings.

We have almost all had times and settings an situations when we were saints.

We have almost all also had times when we were sinners.

What we need to 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.

Some people do not want prior sins by another people either accepted or forgiven.

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.

Some people believe that we should exclude people forever for any clear prior sin.

We could say that anyone who did a major and clear sin should not be part of our group now and should not join in or ever lead any part of our group in the future.

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 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 —

People change.

We should want that change to happen.

We should want people who have bad values, behaviors, and 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.

We need to decide now if we want to adopt that model and goal 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 ways 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 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.

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.

The InterGroup books advocate for including Continuous Improvement as a core value for the nation.

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 tha 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 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 it needs to put our intellect in charge of our beliefs, instincts and cultures, rather than having our lives shaped by our unquestioned cultures and motivated by instinctive emotional responses.

We should take control of that process.

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 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.

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 chooses 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 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 could be a good 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.

We need personal enlightenment and an inclusive set of Us to anchor the process.

Both are possible.



Knowledge is power.

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.