I am sure some of you are confused because you were expecting a new post in the World Religion Series today. But something is weighing heavily on my heart and it just feels like it may be the right time to share. So we will be returning to your regularly scheduled World Religion Series post next time. But first, TETO.
So much conflict. So much negativity. So much divisiveness. So much self-righteous anger. This entire world feels like it is on the verge of a complete and total humanitarian collapse. For an empath; for a person who wants nothing but the best for themselves and for everyone around them; it is physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually draining. Enough is enough. We need to stop trying to dictate the way others should believe, behave and feel and replace it with a big scoop of TETO.
Um…What are you talking about?
TETO has been ringing in my ears for weeks. TETO means To Each Their Own. As a metaphysics/spirituality writer, it is my job to explain very difficult concepts in easy to understand terms within an 800-1200 word format. I believe very strongly in the message I convey within each article, or I would not choose that topic for an article. As a result, I can come off as a bit preachy. That is not my intent at all, but it happens. However, in this instance, preachy is exactly what I am shooting for.
Do you know what makes for the best societies; the best leaders; the best friendships; the best families; and the best individuals? Listening. Not giving speeches, not being quiet while we wait for our turn to speak. Just listening. Introspection is a matter of listening to yourself. All other human interaction needs to begin with us listening to the other person – regardless of whether or not we agree with what they are saying. We have a God(ess)-given right to our opinion. And so does everyone else on the planet. It is not our responsibility to convince anyone to change their opinion on anything. TO EACH THEIR OWN. Everyone is entitled to believe whatever they wish.
But What If They Are Incorrect?
I am not suggesting that we not discuss our beliefs and opinions with each other. Quite the opposite. I propose we all feel free to discuss anything and everything! But it should be done without fear of judgments! For instance, my readers may have noticed that I have very strong opinions regarding organized religions. But I have many friends who are strong believers in particular religions. I have family members in various levels of religious organizations. I have a brother who is a Baptist preacher! I respect their beliefs and opinions and they respect mine. Sure sometimes our opinions clash, but so what. That is when it becomes important to step back and invoke TETO.
So This Is All About Religion?
No. TETO needs to be our first line of defense against judgment in every aspect of our lives. From political beliefs; sexuality; racial beliefs; all the way down to pineapple on pizza. Those are all brain judgments. I think we need to drop all of that crap and move on to soul judgments. I decide friendships based on one criteria and one criteria only (as crass as it might be). People either go into the grouping of Asshole or the grouping of Non-Asshole. Non-Assholes become friends; Assholes are left to their own devices. It is not my place in the universe to try to “fix” the Assholes. It is a decision based on how my soul reacts to your soul. It has nothing to do with any superficial characteristic. We are all allowed to have our own opinions. I try to keep mine to myself unless asked. And I respect that yours may be different. That is fine. To Each Their Own! How boring would life be if we were all the same!
Homogeny Would Suck!
The totality of our experience, knowledge and beliefs make up how others react to our soul. That is why we are each so different. And that should be celebrated, not lamented. It is the differences between each of us that make meeting people so exciting, not the similarities. It is the points of disagreement that make for a fun and lively debate or discussion. If we all thought the exact same way, had the same experiences, believed the same things, life would be insanely boring! Homogeny is not a goal. Homogeny is the enemy of growth. We should never accept something as an absolute. The only thing that never changes is that everything changes.
We as individuals, as a society and as a human race grow through disparity. Life, much like science, is never “settled”. Scientific hypotheses, theories and even laws are not above question. Everything should be tested from time to time to ensure our understand holds true. Just as the theory of a flat earth was accepted for the majority of human history, just because something is widely believed does not make it accurate.
Seek Conversation Over Conversion.
I am a Gen X heterosexual male born, raised and living in a rural portion of Pennsylvania. I have homosexual and bisexual friends, both male and female. And I simply could not care less about who they choose to mate with. Because they are my friend, they have already been placed in the Non-Asshole group and that is all that matters to me. I have a heterosexual daughter who participates in the LGBTQ Club at her high school because she firmly believes that the LGBTQ community should have equal rights and treatment. When I find myself not understanding a viewpoint being expressed by the LGBTQ community due to my limited experience, I research the topic and discuss it with individuals more experienced in that community than I am. Not because I have formed an opinion and want to convince them to think the same way, but because I seek to fully understand everything that I possibly can. I seek conversation about topics to exchange information, not to convert other individuals to share MY opinions. That may be why I am not so great at “winning” an argument. Just ask my wife! I do not need for people to agree with me. As long as I am comfortable that I understand the topic, I am happy to debate from the side of my opinion as an academic exercise, but I derive no joy from changing your opinion. If you can support an opinion opposite of mine, then we are simply looking at the same picture from different angles. And that is great! TETO!
Are There Exceptions?
Like any belief, TETO does have its exceptions in my life. Well, just two actually.
- Never hurt a child. Ever.
- Protect your family
I will not have an open and honest discussion about causing harm to a child in any manner. If someone believes they have the right to cause harm to a child, the only pure and innocent creatures on this side of eternity, they have forfeited their access to TETO and can expect to find in me an unrelenting and endless desire to punish them with the fury of a thousand suns for as long as they continue to breath the precious oxygen of this planet.
There is also no TETO to be found with threatening or harming a member of my family. As a husband and father, I have made the solemn vow to myself that I would never allow man-made harm to come to my wife or children, if I am physically present. If you hold the opinion that you are somehow entitled to take the belongings or the sense of security from my family member, you will find that all you are entitled to is hoping for police presence to stop the onslaught. No mercy, no TETO, will be given to anyone who threatens the safety and wellbeing of my family. I would give anyone the shirt off of my back should they ask for it, but only MY shirt.
What About Political Divisions?
Politics is such a hotbed of anger and ire right now. I find it completely unacceptable and shameful that the people of the United States are allowing a man-made construct to destroy peace and happiness within the lives of so many. I am a registered voter and as such I hold my own opinions regarding proper leadership for the United States that I want to see. However, sometimes I vote on the winning side; sometimes I vote on the losing side; and sometimes I do not vote at all because I cannot agree with the policies of any candidate. But I never riot; or loot; or injure people in response to something as fleeting as a political vote. What is disheartening is watching the strife and hatred shown by some toward elected leaders and those who voted for or against them. Where is TETO when it comes to allowing people to live their lives as they see fit? As my grandmother used to say, “Mind your own plate. If you spend the entire meal time watching what others are eating, you will starve yourself.” There is deep division in the Country right now on seemingly every subject. It is possible that we have governed ourselves into a corner. What if we all just sought conversation instead of conversion? What if we all just let TETO be the ruling principle? What if we all stopped shouting and started listening? What might we learn! What might we teach! What might we foster!
Stop being mean to each other and just go with TETO. We are all souls having a temporary human experience, not humans temporarily having a soulful experience. Search for souls that you find beautiful. Search for conversations that you find enlightening. Search for experiences that you find exciting. Explore and find your own path to happiness. The ways are innumerable and infinite. Let others find their own path even if it is not the same as you. Mind your own plate and TETO!
Thank you for letting me get that out. On 4/19/21 we will be returning to our normally scheduled World Religion Series.