Daily Archives: December 23, 2004

Mixed Messages

You’d better not pout, you’d better not cry
You’d better be good — I’m telling you why:
Santa Claus is coming to town.
He sees you when you’re sleeping
He knows when you’re awake
He knows if you’ve been bad or good —
so be good, for goodness’ sake.

I just today realized the problem with the commercialization of Christmas. The point of the above song is that IF you’re good, you will be rewarded. Conversely, if you’re BAD, your actions will be noted, and your stocking will be shorted accordingly.

Yet, at the same time, we are admonished to “be good, for goodness’ sake”.

If we apply logic to this, that’s the same as saying “art for art’s sake” — or that art is worth making simply because art is worthwhile.

That means that the song is saying that being good is its own reward. That it is the right thing to do. That’s why one does it.

NOT FOR THE REWARD, or because someone is watching who’ll provide some payoff.

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Peace in Action?

On one of the communities I manage, someone made a comment that it seems like all the peace-oriented communities are pretty comatose — not a lot of posting activity. This made me wonder about peace-makers, in general.

To me, a peacemaker is not someone who is all that interested in lamenting how non-peaceful other people are. In addition, they don’t necessarily work in groups. Peace, after all, begins with the individual — and anyone who is seriously interested in finding, and making, peace is always going to look at themselves first and root out in their own character, actions and psyche those violent or harmful impulses and manifestations which are antithetical to peace. That means, of course, a constant level of activity for the peacemaker that starts perhaps unperceivably (to the outside world) and radiates outward first to their immediate surroundings — co-workers, family, neighbors and so on. There isn’t a lot of point in organizing a sit-in half-way around the world if you haven’t got your personal act together first.

Marx said it best — the first step in any public revolution is the private revolution. Ramakrishna, talking extemporaneously about 50 years earlier, said it in a different way — unless you have personally experienced God, you’ve got no business preaching or teaching God to anyone else. First, you’ve got to shut up and listen. In other words, change yourself and you have already changed the world.

So I’m not really all that surprised that the “real” peacemakers aren’t clamoring up and down the “peace-oriented” message boards. After all, they’re busy doing what they need to do, despite a world that doesn’t value their efforts (and often doesn’t even realize their effects, because they are assimilated by osmosis, not radical paradigm shifts). For me, it’s enough that people interested in making peace have a refueling station such as peacetrain to pull into and share their experiences, encourage others and when they can, say just a word or two.

To sum up, to me you “make” war. You “spread” peace. The difference is that you can separate war, either philosophically or physically, from yourself.
With peace, that’s not an option. The Creator and Created are One.

Any thoughts?

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