So we see something or know something that we believe to be true. Then someone, often a loved one, disagrees with us. This gives the ego the perfect opportunity to jump in with a full arsenal of defenses. The ego has been waiting patiently for this. The ego is ready and has a plan, and it's not pretty. (Although the ego tries to assuage our concern about what we're about to embark on us by telling us that the means justify the end.) We're talking World War III here. In our mind, in our relationships, and in our world.
The ego is the Military General at this point, defining our strategy and position, obfuscating our weaknesses, creating barricades against the enemy. There are many levels of thought that become ammunition: There are the reasons to justify your position (i.e. the facts you have learned, the experiences you have had, the data "out there"). There are the times in the recent past when this same loved one has been wrong in your mind (judgment). Deeper than that, there are the ways you have been betrayed in the past, all the old wounds (judgment, victimization). There are the treaties you and the ego made together as a result of those "past" events -- the boundaries you promised you'd set for yourself, the ending of relationships, the new rules and regulations you established, the pretty paint you put on the tanks that you keep nearby so that newcomers aren't scared off immediately but you are still defended should the threat arise.
I was thinking about all this last night. I remembered my highschool logic class and all the fallacies in thinking that we were taught, and the "either/or" fallacy came to mind. This erroneous way of parsing out a problem says "it must either be this way or it has to be that way." Well, who said?
"You are either with us, or against us." We've heard that a lot in our politics the last decade or so. We hear it at home, too. Not always overtly, but in the undertones of how we communicate to each other.
The ego tells us that we need to be Right to avoid being the dreaded Wrong. But what if there's another choice? What if, in the day to day world of playing our roles and living our lives, we can trade being Wrong for extending something....like ACIM teaches. In this case, it might feel or look like basic Respect. It might look like really seeing the other person for the very first time, because we've let down the lens of conditions that we normally look through. The great thing is that if we really let down our defenses -- our judgments, our grievances, our conditions, all our past and future and all our needs ...we can be seen, too. That's going to really help us undo the Guilt, because we're going to have a major Light Bulb lighting up the darkened closets we've opened.
I know we think we respect others, but do we? Not holding on to being Right, but extending Respect instead means we don't have control. So if that has begun to rub us the wrong way, good. It means we're on to something.
Sometimes we think we're letting go of control and extending respect, but we're not doing either. We're manipulating. We're still holding on to being Right. We still believe we Know something. Maybe in an argument, we say, "Fine. Do what you want." What we are really saying is, "I am Right. You are Wrong. I will now commence the Guilt Trip portion of the war."
We're afraid the Respect will mean abandonment. Or if we give an inch of Respect, the other person will take a mile of it. Same thing.
It's a lie. Just remember that. It's all a lie.
And here's a note of thanks: As I move through these lessons, I feel the need to write them down -- not just in a notebook as I've done for years -- but share them. I don't really know why, but the pull is strong. I know my ego is in here, too, but I Trust that it's Perfect. And the thing is sharing is only sharing when it is Called for. If I go around pontificating with people who have not Called for these ideas in their mind, then that is superiority. And no doubt I have my share of that to release. So the point is, boy, do I thank Al Gore for inventing the internet. ;) And you.