Welcome. I am Michelle Paquette, pronouns she, her, hers.
Small and random brushes with truths large and small seems to describe much of our mental life beyond the clockwork of simply getting through the day.
There are the truths of simple physics. Some things can be done, and some cannot. Objects may be easily moved, or too heavy to lift. Doors may be locked, or open. There are the truths of everyday life. It’s safer to cross the street at a crosswalk. Your car may vanish if you leave it in a ‘No Parking’ zone.
Then, there are the truths other people present to us, and the truths we respond with. These are what fascinate me.
We have evolved with certain survival traits, including trying to recognize threats to ourselves. When we see other people, we look at their faces, and we proceed to overgeneralize from our evolved mechanism to spot emotional states in others. We see a kernel of truth in others, and we proceed to layer assumptions and judgements atop this, based on cultural conditioning and life experience.
We are going to have expressions on our face as well. That expression may very well reflect the assumptions and judgements we have made about someone we have just seen. Others will see this expression, and, well...
That expression we see on someone’s face may reflect what assumptions and judgements they have made about us, or it may reflect internal issues with that curry they had for lunch.
We really don’t know what truth they may be expressing. We do see it and commit acts of assumption and judgement, even if invalid.
Maya Angelou wrote: “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”
I like that.
Our First Principle is “the inherent worth and dignity of every person.” Our reverence and respect for human nature is at the core of our faith. We carry the potential to do good, the capacity for observation and reason, and the ability to appreciate all that is around us. We use our gifts in the service of love, justice, healing, and our search for joy.
Our Second Principle seeks justice, equity and compassion in human relations, and our Third Principle asks for acceptance of one another and encouragement of spiritual growth.
We can apply these principles to the hard work of examining our assumptions and judgements, and finding ways to improve how we perceive the truths others offer us. We can identify our overgeneralizations, break down our poor assumptions, and remove inappropriate judgements, all of which interfere with our perceiving and exchanging personal truths with each other.
“The thing to do, it seems to me, is to prepare yourself so you can be a rainbow in somebody else's cloud. Somebody who may not look like you. May not call God the same name you call God - if they call God at all. I may not dance your dances or speak your language. But be a blessing to somebody. That's what I think.”
- Maya Angelou
Again. There’s wisdom there.
Let’s start this work. Let’s prepare ourselves to be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud, as we worship together.