THE POWERFUL FORCE

The last few posts we have looked at how we as different faiths share the common bond of love and the desire to mature spiritually. It is when approaching someone who is not only different than us, but one that we may be at odds with that this becomes most paramount.

If our desire is to forge a bond with those who are considered our enemy we can only do so by relating to them on a level that we share. Using the power of love, which is a feeling everyone desires and everyone has the ability to give, is the most powerful way to do so. Looking back in history can only serve to prove this correct. Starting with the above example Martin Luther King jr. He did not curse those who persecuted him based solely on the color of his skin. No, he preached love, equality and acceptance. Nelson Mandela who was imprisoned for a quarter of a century could have very easily moved to start a revolution upon his release and nobody would have blamed him. Instead he said, “If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.” That my friends takes a lot of love, but look what he was able to do.

As we think of those we consider enemies, let us begin to consider ways in which we can use love instead to make them our friends. It will not only be better for creating a result, it will be better for our heart and better for the world as well.

WHAT IS YOUR STORY?

This blog post created itself last night. After Margie and I had finished our Wednesday night show and found ourselves driving with our friend Kelly. We began sharing defining moments from our childhood that defined who we are today. It caused me to reflect on a few moments that I would like to share with you. More so, it made me think of something far more important that we will get to right after this moment of reflection.

For those of you who may have been reading my writings of late, I have shared the story of my senior year English teacher. On the final day before graduation, she pulled me aside and said in an almost pleading tone, “I pray to God you will never have a career involving writing.” Given the evidence up to that point I would have been inclined to agree with her, but here we are.

Another fun story involved a teacher I had for business. She was a kindly lady. She kind of reminded me of someone’s grandmother from a Norman Rockwell painting. My relationship with this wonderful woman was great. We laughed, smiled and shared many good conversations. I would have said I was the perfect student with one glaring exception. In this class it just so happened I was surrounded by friends of mine. It also happened these were friends that like conversation as much as I did. Daily we shared conversations about life, love and our pursuit of happiness. When the time came out for giving everyone a grade I still recall what this teacher wrote. Written next to my grade was the comment, “Neil will do a lot better in life when he understands you can’t make a living discussing life and its challenges with people.” Once again, here we are. Discussing life and how to positively approach and overcome its challenges. Granted you might be reading this in Greenland, South Africa or Fiji while I am here in West Allis, Wisconsin, but virtually we are engaged in this conversation.

Let me share a more comical example from my youth. Second grade I do believe. I had a good friend who had just moved away and I found myself in trouble for something. That part seems to remain vague. As punishment I was to stand with my back against the wall and watch the other kids enjoying recess and playing on the playground. Sounds a little cruel in hindsight but I guess it served as a lesson – almost. As I was standing there I thought of a joke. One of the kids walked by and I told him my joke. He thought it was so funny he went to bring other kids to hear it. Before recess was over I found myself doing what could be described as a forced stand up comedy routine.

I saved this example for last because it was by far the darkest example. I was part of a group called ‘peer helpers’ in high school. The program was designed to help students who were facing addiction, abuse or any other emotional trauma. To me it sounded like a great idea on the surface. It became apparent very quickly that I disagreed with the approach of the program. It seemed to approach the issues from that of the adults who formed the group and not of the youths facing the challenges. I soon politely left the group. All would have been ok with one exception. I really did have the desire to help and still talked to many of the kids I had met in the program. I tried methods I believed might reach them. This was especially true because most of them had stopped asking for help from the Peer Helpers program.

Again, this would have all been good, but my locker happened to be right across the hallway from the lady who was in charge of the program. Once she noticed that quite a few of the students who left her group were coming up to my locker and asking questions she stormed over. She issued what can only be viewed as a veiled threat. She yelled how dare I think I could help kids better than she could and I better stop what I was doing “or else.” I really wasn’t trying to do anything but help people the best way I thought I could. I continued to do so with a little more discretion. Two days before I was set to graduate I was summoned to the principle’s office. When I arrived the teacher was there along with several police officers. This teacher, this adult, this individual who is supposed to be an example told all of them I had threatened to physically harm her. Not only was that a total lie, but I had no malice towards this woman, merely a difference in philosophy. Luckily, with the support and sworn statements of my character from other instructors I had and her changing her story several times the matter was all but dropped.

What is the point of all of these stories? The point is that anyone of these stories could have had a very negative impact on my life. What made the difference is that I chose what they meant to me. My high school English teacher could have prevented me from ever starting this site which has close to 1000 posts. What she told me could have dissuaded me from ever writing my book A Happy Life for Busy People. My business teacher tried to convince me there was no future in listening to the challenges people face in life and trying to help create solutions, but that is the basis of all I do.

Through my punishment that day in second grade I learned the power of humor to reach people. I also learned that sometimes when the world seems to be taken away from you, the best solution is to make the world come to you. It is a theme that kind of plays throughout the videos on my YouTube channel. It also showed me new and wonderful ways to make friends. The lesson that if you can introduce your material to enough people it can really change your situation didn’t escape me either.

The final dark situation could have steered me in many different directions. I could have decided not to trust authority. Certainly learning that ego can override professionalism and make people act in ways they shouldn’t. I could have decided that it meant if I try to do things on my own in a way I feel will help the most people it will lead to trouble and could land me in jail. Of course it also showed me the value of displaying and acting with the best character and highest standards.

What is your story? What events have transformed your life? Have you let them decide what you can or can’t do? Are they putting limits on your life or are you using them to motivate you? The story of our lives should not be told through the mouths or actions of others. Realize you are not a victim of your past but a victor over it. You have made it to today despite what you have been told and what has happened to you. Do not let your past or those in it steal your power for a strong future. Find the empowerment in every challenge you have faced, or may now be facing.

TRUE FREEDOM

President Bill Clinton with Nelson Mandela, Ju...
President Bill Clinton with Nelson Mandela, July 4 1993. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background or his religion. People learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart that its opposite”

– Nelson Mandela 1918-2013

I interrupt my current string of blogs because of the passing of one of the truly great men of our times. Nelson Mandela was a man who understood what freedom was. After being jailed for a third of his life for nothing more than the color of his skin he was set free and went on to become his country’s first black president. Years later when being interviewed by then US president Bill Clinton Mr. Mandela was asked if he felt anger and hatred for the people who had imprisoned him. He said as he was walking out of jail he did feel that as those people took away his wife for all of those years which ended up ruining his marriage. He also was deprived of the privilege of watching his children grow up. These feelings are understandable. I think any of us would feel the same way. What sets this man apart was his answer to the next question. He was then asked if he did have those feelings, and rightfully so, how did he manage to put them aside and work with those same people who put him in prison for the good of his country. His answer speaks volumes and is something we should all pay attention to. He said he knew if he did not leave those feelings of anger and hatred behind he would still be in prison and never be free. Wow. I don’t know about you but I do not think I could take that high of a road. It has been said that forgiveness is not a gift you give the other person, but a gift you give yourself. Through his compassion and understanding a nation was healed and people came together. What could we do in our own lives if we did not let our feelings of anger and hatred stop us from doing what we should? We may not be able to heal a nation, but we could heal a family, a workplace or even our community. Buddha said being angry is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Our feelings of hurt, anger and sadness that we hang on to and let rule our present are our poison. Do yourself a favor and let them go. Not only will you honor the member of a truly great man and leader, but you will free yourself from the worst prison we can put ourselves in.