Sunday, October 09, 2005

who is the donkey?

I read the bible story about Balaam and his donkey (Numbers 22:21-39), and this is what bugs me about God, He brings me more questions than answers. The bible is supposed to bring wisdom and lessons to the reader, but as I read it I have to wonder am I the donkey or the foolish man?

The story goes Balaam was on a reckless path and his donkey saw the angel of the Lord and stopped in his tracks. Balaam got mad and beat the donkey each time, angry that the donkey was making a fool of him. This happened three times, when God gave the donkey speech and the donkey said to Balaam, "What have I done to make you beat me these three times?" to which Balaam finally realized the errors of his ways, fell facedown, and said "I have sinned!" Then he changed course and obeyed God.

I think I know the answer to that question, but you always have to ask, and question
oneself, because there is always the possibility of pride in oneself and we can always learn from each character in a story. It's funny that the stubborn donkey is the one who actually was the one who could see the angel of the Lord and obeyed while the one supposedly in charge was the one actually being stubborn and not patiently asking, why might the donkey have stopped and is not obeying?

In my opinion people get mad easily in proportion to their pride. There is righteous
anger in response to injustice, and the discussion I had on humility speaks to some of this - the space in between letting anything occur without speaking out, and getting quickly or unjustifiably angry. We have to learn to see from another perspective which enables us to not get too angry ("why is the donkey acting like this?"), but we also have to help others' see our perspective if we want them to empathize. In my opinion, we shouldn't protect our "reputation" or how we look to others so much as we should behave ourselves in the first place and be willing to openly let everyone see ourselves truthfully. If we act with integrity, we should not be ashamed at the mistakes we have made in our lives, they are part of the beauty and imperfection that we of humanity carry. We try to recognize them and change and improve but there is no shame in being human and real.

So much of humanity is hidden in shame and secrecy and denial. Alice Miller's work on this in relation to families, child abuse, and the reign of leaders like Hitler and the lasting effects of violence, shame, and emotional manipulation on society is brilliant (Thou Shalt Not Be Aware, Breaking Down the Wall of Silence, and The Drama of the Gifted Child are three of my favorites of her books). It occurs everywhere in small little actions and not always large, dramatic ones.

If I had a council of living and dead people who I could have to guide me (and do) it would be: M. Scott Peck, Alanis Morrissette, Anne LaMott, C.S. Lewis, Debbie Ford, Alice Miller, Erich Fromm, Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Annie Dillard, and Jesus. I'm sure there are more but these are who I think of now (in addition to my dear friends and family who do guide me!).

Oh! I have to add my newest intrigue - Anderson Cooper. I have never seen his TV broadcasting because I don't watch TV but I read an essay he wrote on his brother's suicide and it touched me deeply, and then I did some searching about him and he is fascinating, deep, emotional, real, and brave. Well I think that it was actually him reporting in the video clip shown at the SEJ plenary that I wrote about in my essay posted on 10/4 that made me cry when I saw the scenes of New Orleans. Maybe one day I will meet him.

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