Within the next day or two, I will have the experience of completing one of the most powerful and compelling books I’ve ever read. While. Look forward to seeing how the book ends, I will be sorry that the entire reading process will be over.
One of the memorable scenes in the book takes place in Kabul. To make it briefer than the moment deserves, it depicts a young woman who has endured extreme hardships and endless physical attacks from her husband. She is returning to Kabul and observes that she loves everything about the city – the smells, sights, sounds and overall ambience of the city. As one who has lived in one city or another for my entire life, I was struck by the power of loving everything around you, regardless of the details.
It subsequently occurred to me that life would be powerfully changed if we could emulate this behavior in our ongoing, routine lives. For instance, it would be a process of never issuing negativity or displeasure with anything, regardless of the context. That doesn’t mean that we suddenly live in la-la land, where everything is cotton candy and fairy tales. It means simply that we don’t express any negativity that we see, smell or feel.
The idea is tantalizing. Any time that we spend moments with others, we are frequently subjected to such statements as, “I hate this,” or “I can’t stand that” or “That person makes me sick.” While I am not naïve enough to believe that I can make this a universal practice, I can change my own patterns of speech and observe the outcomes.
Yes, I realize that it won’t be easy. But if I am diligent about removing all negative commentary about anyone, anywhere or anything, I can well imagine that those around me will be improved, if only slightly. And practice makes perfect sense. Just as I don’t enjoy hearing about someone else’s prejudice or distaste for something, it follows that people don’t need or want to hear about mine. The most difficult component will be when someone expressing their dislike for someone or something is expecting corroboration which will not be forthcoming from me.
And I will see how it works. My expectation is that the results will all be positive, for me and others. But it is a totally realistic idea that we can improve the world, if only slightly, by withholding negative observations. If I don’t succeed at first, it will be a good thing to try and try again. Shalom.