Sunday, August 16, 2015

Double Standards, Situational Ethics, Trust and Forgiveness

I have had a lot of deep conversations in the past couple of weeks with a few dear friends.  Have I mentioned my circle is small?  It is.  Impeccably small.  Why?  Because I do not trust people.  Why?  Because I have been conditioned in my life to not trust people.

You see, I believe that as a whole, and this topic is widely debated from most people I discuss it with, that society suffers from situational ethics.  I read the book in college in one of my many psych classes and although the author is a self proclaimed once Christian turned Atheist,  he had many legitimate points that stuck with me and made perfect sense.  Again, we are all human and we are all deserving of our own opinions and ideals in this world, in this one life we are given, so I am not trying to project my beliefs onto anyone else.  However, let me explain.  I am a Christian.  Do not doubt this.  However, I do believe in situational ethics.  This means that people in general base their decisions on situations rather than the root of their Christian belief system (or lack thereof).  It means that people base their decisions on the consequences and the situations that they are in that justify those actions taken.  For example:  We do not steal because why?  Because it is morally wrong or because it is illegal?  This reason varies from person to person.  Don't believe me?  Take an anonymous questionnaire and analyze the results.  Trust me.  What about finding someone and beating them to a pulp?  Most of us would never even think about beating up another human being, however ... if the situation becomes one like a person's home is invaded, their children are hurt, they were involved in a wreck or harassed continually ... well then, the ethics change because the situation changed it.  Make sense?  The basis of situational ethics is that the majority of society is good.  Humble.  Kind.  Giving.  Understanding.  Even from culture to culture or religion shifts ... people are innately good, right?  Situational ethics is the belief system that people are inherently good because of consequences of being otherwise.  So the basis of this belief lies the question of, "Are people inherently good?  Or are people inherently bad but suffer from situational ethics?"  Now I am going to pretend you are pondering those two questions.  Because how could you not?  People do not steal, do not kill, do not pillage, do not do a LOT of things because of the consequences that come with them. Every action has a consequence.  But when people do commit something such as those ... they have an excuse or a motive because of a "situation" that they were involved in or placed in unexpectedly.  Hence, situational ethics.  So ... that being said, people can suck sometimes.  If they didn't we would not have killers, abusers, molesters, hit and run accidents, homeless women and children from abused homes, drug dealers, embezzlers, thieves, etc.  The list truly goes on.

Double standards?  Simple.  We all experience this and even commit this in our lifetimes.  It is a rule that is unfairly applied to different people or groups in different ways.  PLEASE please do not confuse double standards with situational ethics.  They are different.  Most people apply double standards to suit themselves or an argument they are making.  We see this a lot in relationships.  How many of you have been in a relationship with someone (whether it be friendship or romantic or even work related) where the individual is acting in a specific manner yet twists it to look sugar-coated all the while diminishing you for doing the same thing or less.  Let's see ... I be you have all heard (unless you are like my parents and married for decades), "Do not talk to that person anymore.  You cannot have friends of the opposite sex." All the while in the same conversation they tell you, "No they mean nothing to me.  It is different.  I have known this person my entire life.  They are like family."  Ummmm, double standard much?  This is one small example of how this is projected.

So ... let us just say that I simply do not trust people for my own personal reasons and that it does not affect my life in the vast form of living, but in regards to my circle ... it does.  So my circle is very small and very tight and I like it that way.

Now, on to forgiveness.  This has been the topic of so many conversations that have been brought to me in the last couple of weeks.  I have a few friends and loved ones that just simply cannot forgive certain people in their lives or past lives that keep rearing their little heads.  People tend to come to me with this topic a lot.  I think it is because I have adapted my life to the ability of forgiveness.  For me, forgiveness does not mean that you have to be their friend, you do not have to meet them for coffee, you do not have to invite them to social gatherings, you do not have to like them and you do not have to smile at them every day, but by forgiving their moment of human stupidity and their obvious undesirable choice(s) ... you release yourself from so much stress and anger and sadness that peace naturally comes.  Believe me, it has taken me many MANY years to learn this and be able to apply it to my life.  I try to teach my children this and pray that it becomes as natural as breathing for my friends and family.  I read in a book once that forgiveness doesn't mean that you have to like that person or what they did but it means you remove your imaginary hands from around their throat and can relax and breath.  Believe it or not, forgiving another person adds years to your life.  YEARS people.  Who would not want to have a few more years to enjoy their loved ones, travel, sing, dance, paint ... whatever.  We have one life to live and one life to enjoy ... why not add a few years to that life?

Just because I do not trust people, does not mean that it deteriorates my life.  It does not diminish my joy.  It just means that I enjoy people and social settings without letting everyone invited into my personal life on an intimate level.  I can enjoy anyone and visit with anyone, but you will not know my desires and passions and fears and what has broken my heart or even what has truly mended it back together.  But forgiveness?  Forgiveness will diminish your life if you lack the ability.  Reaching that point does not happen over night, it does not happen by the next season or even the next year.  But working on it and choosing to have positivity in your life increases your ability to forgive those that hurt you.

I always tell my children, you cannot control how someone else sees you, how they think of you, how they treat you, how they talk about you.  But you can control how you see yourself, think of yourself, treat yourself and feel about yourself or even tell yourself how amazing you are.  We control our own happiness and our own joy.  Others contribute to it but do not allow them to control it.

When you refuse to forgive someone else you are allowing them to control your happiness.  Don't.  There is a reason they are no longer a part of your life, and if they are still a part of your life, then there is an even bigger reason that forgiveness is necessary.

Do not let someone else suck the clean air from your breathable space.

"Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future." ~ Paul Boese

How does this all tie together?  Easy.  Trusting people is difficult for most of us because most of us have been hurt beyond recognition.  The reasons vary but the root is the same.  Pain.  Personal pain.  People act out according to their situational ethics or their double standards.  Forgiveness heals ourselves.  It is for you, not them.  It would be wonderful if we could forgive others as quickly as we expect God to forgive us, but we are human and it does not work that way.  However, we are all works in progress, right?  Besides, one day, just like I have in the past, I will more than likely hurt someone else with a word that is said harshly or a look that is hurtful or a secret that falls out of my mouth.  I pray it does not happen, but I know it will because I am human.  When it does, forgiveness is the first thing I will be seeking.  Please give it to me.  I will you.

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