2002-04-20 / Columnists

The Inner Voice by Marilyn Gelfand

The Inner Voice by Marilyn Gelfand

Many people have different opinions of what it means to be "spiritual" when it comes to the use of force. I have heard it expressed that to be spiritual means never to be forceful. If other people need to be destructive that is their problem. A spiritual person should never be the one to use a weapon, for example. That is NOT what I believe. I believe that for many of us, the lesson is to be able to say "NO" demanding that the other person stops hurting us. There is no point in using force when both sides want to cooperate. However, if one side pushes, what will stop them often is only an equal or stronger force on the other side. Even if we try to ignore or not respond, often the push continues or intensifies. In the beginning, we can see if the person moves on and tries to get the attention elsewhere when there is no response. However, if it continues, there may be no choice but to respond.

There are people who will always feel entitled to keep taking from others as long as it is allowed. Their defense is, "Why didn't you stop me?" or "It was up to you to know better!" Innocence in our society is no real defense. We are supposed to be aware and protect ourselves because we can expect that there will be people who want to take advantage of others. Part of our lessons of protection is ensuring that our own personal boundaries are not crossed or left open. If your intuition tells you to not get involved with someone, for example, and the person is smiling at you, it is much better to trust your own instincts. If you don't want anyone to touch your personal belongings, it is a good idea to lock the door. The same is true with our own energy. A boundary is a form of safety. We can freely get involved with all different people as long as we have that initial respect for ourselves.

Nature uses force all the time to build and tear down. Storms, the waves in our ocean, fire, or the wind are examples of tremendous power that can bring change. Most of us know to respect the natural forces because they can be so strong. The whole system of each one of us providing food for another species was designed to be harmonious, eliminating the weak and maintaining the system through strength. The alpha males in animals demonstrate their power to other males to ensure the survival of the group. Unfortunately, human beings kill for the sake of killing, not only for survival through food. The displays of animals are often only shows of force without actual destruction. The strong ones are responsible for maintaining the whole picture.

Love is not necessary to maintain the workings of the whole. It is like a clock where each part could actually fit in with the rest and work together. Love is something that works well when both sides are interested and respectful of the other. If it is only one sided, it often leads to the destruction of the loving participant. A children's book called "The Giving Tree" by Shel Silverstein shows a young boy's relationship with a tree through the years of his growth. The tree willingly gives him what he needs, but in the end, the tree is only a stump for the boy to sit on. The boy has destroyed the tree, and has given the tree nothing in return. We must learn to be protective while being loving. Often respect comes, not through kindness in our society, but through the show of self-respect.

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