Editor’s Note: This article by John-Roger was first published in Rod and Staff, Winter 1986. Although the technology has changed, the themes in the article are still pertinent today.
I have heard people complain that things aren’t like the good old days. I have heard complaints that our times are becoming too computerized and that we’re losing the human touch. I’m not sure I agree with that. You see, for some, the good old days weren’t necessarily all that good. And as for losing the human touch because of computers, it might be valuable to remind ourselves that it was through the “touch” of many human beings that computers were invented. In fact, I think we can learn something from the computers we have created.
The other day, I wrote someone a note on my computer/word processor, and after writing and rewriting until it expressed what I wanted it to, I printed the letter. After that process was complete, I felt good. The good feeling was because of three reasons. The first, because God is in my life (and I am in God’s); the second, because I communicated information clearly, without trying to manipulate a desired response; and the third, because of the fun I get out of working on my computer/word processor.
For those of you who may not yet know about word processors, it’s a lot like using a typewriter, except it doesn’t print on a paper (at first), but on a screen (like your television monitor). And if you type as I do—not expertly—then mistakes are made. The greatest thing about word processors is that when mistakes are made, you can see them on the screen and correct them. This gives you freedom to make mistakes without being penalized. You can push the “delete” key and take out letters, words, sentences, paragraphs, and even pages. You can push the “replace” key and change phrases in your letter very simply. You can even move things around, such as put the last paragraph first, and vice versa.
Imagine being able to live life like that. Imagine making a mistake and then being able to correct it, without being penalized. Too often, in what we mistakenly call real life, we penalize others (and ourselves) when errors are made. We often react emotionally: “You really hurt me,” or “That really makes me angry, and I don’t know if I can forgive you.”
Imagine making a mistake in life and then pushing the “delete” key; the mistake is erased, and the correct action has moved into the situation. Instead of castigating someone and assassinating their character because they may have done something wrong (pushed the wrong key—or “pushed your buttons”), wouldn’t it be nice if each of us could use the “delete” keys and erase judgment? Wouldn’t it be for our advancement if we could push our “replace” keys and replace our emotional judgments with neutral observations? Wouldn’t it be excellent if we could push the “move” button and go past our pain into the pleasure of forgiveness and acceptance?
Earlier I said, “what people mistakenly call real life.” Usually people determine that “real life” is something that is often painful, difficult, and filled with terrifying obstacles and negativity. In this so-called real world, I have often heard people say, “You can’t change City Hall,” meaning that it’s impossible to effect improvement. These same people often explain nature’s disasters, such as hurricanes and floods, by saying “That’s God’s way.”
I like to remind us that rainbows, hummingbirds, and beautiful weather are also examples of God’s way. And as for “changing City Hall,” we have seen many examples of governments, elected representatives, and laws having changed. Certainly in MSIA and Insight Seminars I have witnessed many thousands of people changing for their betterment.
I think it would be of value not to put energy into the “good ol’ days.” It might be advantageous to use our memories as a frame of reference rather than for comparison. Whether it really was better in those days than it is today is more a matter of opinion than fact. (Opinions are like reversible jackets.) The memory does wonderful things. It forgets pain. Although that is a blessing, it can also be deceiving. We can make yesterday perfect and today terrible because of imperfect recall.
In case you’re wondering, I am not looking through Pollyanna’s rose-colored glasses and thinking this world can’t stand improvement. I recognize that the world is full of wars, pollution, and pain. It is also filled with joy, loving, and compassion. Although the world may be filled with suffering, it is also filled with those who have overcome obstacles.
There are those who may settle into familiar roles of complaining about the very real ills of the world, blaming individuals and organizations. As for me, I would rather focus on transcending difficulties with positive action. I would rather be for abundance than against hunger; I would rather be for peace than against war. The part of God that is within me is alive and well. From that source, regardless of situation or circumstance, regardless of personality or preference, I find that I can be loving, giving, caring, and sharing.
During this time of year when we celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas, it’s appropriate to give thanks and move into recognition of the day the Christ manifested in the form of Jesus. What better time than this to embrace the teaching of Jesus to “love thy neighbor as thyself.” This implies that you must first learn to love yourself. How do you love yourself in an environment that doesn’t always value you? Simple. Not easy, but simple. Awaken to the part of you that is always valued and of value: God that is within you.
If I have one wish for you during this favorable time of year, it would be that you love yourself as God loves you.