I’m starting to think that advertisers, marketers, politicians, the media, and all of the seemingly maniacal masters of mind manipulation might be a little more innocent than some of us like to imagine? Why? Because I realize that the masses aka “We the People” are a lot more powerful than we are willing to take responsibility for. Ever since I wrote the piece, Can You Spare a Little Change, I have been paying even more attention to how small thoughts can make a big difference in my moment to moment experiences.
Just this morning, while sitting on a bench taking a break from walking my dog I caught myself trying to imagine that these two guys playing tennis thought that I shouldn’t be there. I only heard parts of what they were saying. “…guy”, “in the trees”, “good”, “You think so?” But despite the fact that I only heard those disconnected parts, my mind instantly tried to fill in the blanks with something like:
Guy A: “That black guy sitting on the bench in the trees shouldn’t be here. He’s probably up to no good.”
Guy B: “You think so?”
Fortunately, because of my practice, I caught myself. I stopped the train and got off. I reminded myself that I don’t know those men or what they were saying. With that, I prayed for them, our society, and myself. On a soul level I asked for forgiveness for projecting my own concerns about racism and prejudice onto them and then I imagined a better way of filling in those blanks.
Guy A: Do you see the dog with that guy sitting on the bench in the trees? That’s a good dog.
Guy B: “You think so?”
That’s all it took for me to completely change my experience. I was able to do that because I took responsibility for my thoughts. I know that I have the power to do that in any situation if I want to. And the cool thing is it is never too late to turn our thoughts around and think differently. That’s why I’m letting marketers and politicians and other people who put in work to influence our decisions off the hook a little bit. As I see it, someone can try to sell me on any idea that they want to, but I don’t have to buy it. And if I don’t like the way some thought in my head or action I am taking is going, I can always say “No more of this!” to what I do not desire in my thought life and “No, more of this.” to that which I would like to continue in.
Too many of us are walking around here like we are powerless. No more of this! That’s what I say. Actually, I got that from Jesus. That’s what he said when Peter tried to defend him with violence. It’s a really powerful statement and I think it’s something we need to say more of. In the sermon below, I talk about this idea of just stopping the separation mindset and choosing a more inclusive way. It isn’t always easy, but it is definitely worth it. I hope you get something out of the message.