Friday, May 4, 2007

Teaching Bad Behavior

I am currently reading "Blessing the World - What Can Save Us Now" by Rebecca Ann Parker. It is a compilation of essays discussing ways religious liberals can make sense of and come to terms with the cruetly and devestation that the world is facing. So far it has been an interesting read. She has already got me really thinking about the way I, as a liberal, am processing such horrendous human behavior. How do we make sense of the cruetly so many humans are enduring, the crisis the environment is facing, and our own uncertain futures?

She posits that we don't spend enough time dealing with the violent/bad side of human nature. The Christian's have Lent to remind themselves of Jesus' very violent and humiliating death. The Jews have Yom Kippur to reflect upon their own failings and ask for forgiveness. The Muslims fast during Ramadan trying to reach a better self-awareness of their very human natures. What, as Unitarians, do we do? Not much.

Our religious education spends most of its time discussing the positive side of humans. We are told that there is good in everyone, that there is hope for the future, that we can make a difference. All this I really do believe. I don't feel that there is anything wrong in this, but are we depriving ourselves a true understanding of the human condition by not spending time discussing our "bad" side? I even hesitate to use this word, as it can mean so many different things. We, and our children, are not blind to the horrible things going on around us. But how do I explain to myself and my children why these things happen? We aren't doing ourselves any favors by not acknowledging that there is a dark side to humans. All of us have thoughts that we aren't proud of. No matter how "good" we are, we aren't perfect. I wish Unitarians had a tradition (Christian UU's do) of a period of time to reflect on this "other" side of human nature. Once we delve into it, we can begin the process of how to acknowledge and work with it. In doing this, we will be stronger as a community and better able to handle the next crisis that comes our way.

1 comment:

Angelina said...

I have reflected on this all too much at times. It has been more of a challenge for me to find the good in people, to believe that all people have the potential to be wise, peaceful, hard working, loving, compassionate, and happy.

Maybe this is a built in blessing of being mentally ill: a firm foot in the dark side of humanity forces you to acknowledge that side of things and to get your foot out of it you have to believe it's not only possible for you but that it's possible for everyone.