I recently read a quote by the writer Anne Lamott with which I resonated, “You can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.” What does it say about us if we look for reasons why it is okay to dislike or hate others? What does it say about us no matter how little that we take some satisfaction in the difficulties of others? Why do some people gravitate toward negativity? I guess it’s the recent rash of shootings around the nation that has me wondering what goes wrong in the soul that enables people to devalue others? Does it start out with being irritated by slow drivers, a coworker being promoted instead of us, a drive-in order getting screwed up? What causes that irritation to then grow and become an anger allowing us to view others as offenders?
Concerning transgressions in ancient Hawaiian culture I read the following in “Kingship and Sacrifice” by Valerio Valeri, “But there exist sacrifices whose specific end is the expiation of ritual faults, or the infraction of a vow, or the violation of kinship morality. These transgressions produce a state of sin, represented metaphorically as a cord binding the offender to the offended. In addition, as others are inevitably drawn into the conflict, the cord is visualized as a network of ever-spreading unpleasantness called ‘hihia’ which thus indicates a state of entanglement of confusion in which the transgressor and his entire social network are embroiled. For this reason it is necessary to ‘untangle’ them by rites of expiation.”
Perhaps instead of us focusing on how others have offended us we would do better to question how we offend others around us and then find expressions of expiation toward them? To the extent that we are able to view others as “not like us” then we are able to grow anger toward them. To the extent that we are able to view ourselves as “like others” then we will be able to focus on healing relationships rather than growing anger which ruptures relationships. So what kind of sacrifices of expiation can we make? A card of apology, a flower left at their door, a kiss. Of course a kiss is not recommended for those annoying us in traffic! Instead of nurturing a seed of anger and enabling it to grow into a bush of rage we could turn our feelings around and say a prayer for their well-being! In other words we can wish them well rather than misfortune! In the end, what we wish for others either grows our own spiritual life or destroys it!