Are you living your values?

 Engaging eye-to-eye

This morning, I listened to a Conservative Christian State Senator from Utah explain how he had changed his position on the rights of LGBT people. He had moved from disregarding their rights to respecting them.

Interestingly, he said that he hadn’t actually changed his Christian values. He had simply realised that he wasn’t living the values he was espousing, and that allowed him to see the rights of LGBT people differently.

His insight came when he remembered that Jesus had said ‘love your neighbour’ – without qualification.

That meant that as a Christian, although he might not agree with his neighbour’s behaviour, beliefs or sexual orientation, he was obliged to love them and respect their rights.

Are you living your values or just pushing them in the interests of your group of like-minded friends?

Something to think about, no matter what set of values you might have.

IMG_0156Peter Mulraney is a creative writer from Australia. He is the author of the Inspector West crime series, the Living Alone series of self-help books for men, Sharing the Journey: Reflections of a Reluctant Mystic and The New Girlfriend. He has also published colouring books and journals under the Sharing the Journey banner.

The power of words

This week I spotted a book on a friend’s bookshelf, not one of those online bookshelves like on GoodReads but one with actual books on it. The book was: Crones don’t whine by Jean Shinoda Bolen.

Reading the book reminded me of the first time I had come across the term ‘crone’. It was when I was doing some Celtic Studies and learnt about the three faces of the feminine: the maiden, the mother and the crone.Those three faces also reflect the three obvious phases of growth: youth, maturity and old age.

In the West we do not value the old. Just look at the term we commonly use instead of crone: hag .When we refer to an older woman as an ‘old hag’ we are implying that she is old, dried up and useless.

The writer of Crones don’t whine gives us a much healthier definition of a crone as a wise woman, a woman who is authentic to herself and tells it like it is. A crone is a woman full of life not a dried up shell of a woman.

That juxtaposition of images of women in the third phase of life made me think about the way we use words to denigrate wise women or to devalue their role. Think about the word ‘witch’ and the uses to which it was put, and in some places in the world is still put.

Thinking about this use of words reminded me of something I had read in another book a couple of years ago. That book was The Gospel of Mary Magdalene by Jean-Yves Leloup.Fortunately, it has been translated from French to English, otherwise I wouldn’t have been reading it.

In that book I discovered that Pope Gregory I was the one who decided that Mary Magdalene had been a prostitute. One can only surmise why, but given that some of the so called Gnostic gospels, the ones suppressed by the Church, describe a very different Mary, one intimately linked with Jesus and one who obviously understood his message, and the fact that there is no description of Mary as a prostitute in any of the accepted Gospels, it seems to me that Gregory was out to discredit her and any role she had played. After all, the popes were setting up a boys club where the only role for women was in the serving classes.

Words have power and they can be used in ways to uphold, embellish or destroy. It may be time for each of us to consider or reconsider the words we use to describe others. What do the words you use tell you about the value you place on the people you use them to describe? What does using them tell you about yourself and your values?

One term that has had plenty of media coverage in Australia is ‘illegal immigrant’, used by politicians to describe anyone who attempts to come to Australia by boat via Indonesia seeking asylum. ‘Asylum seeker’ tells a story of desperation, of people fleeing from intolerable situations. “Illegal immigrant’ tells a different story, of people coming without permission, and has been used to justify offshore processing and indefinite detention. These practices are not restricted to Australia. Check out the current edition of The New Internationalist magazine.

A few posts back I wrote about self-honesty. It’s good for the soul of the individual. I’d suggest that it’s also good for the soul of the nation or the institution as well.

Who are we really fooling when we use words to label and denigrate instead of acting out of a sense of connection and compassion?

I invite you to reflect on the words you use to describe others and consider becoming part of the solution instead of contributing to the problem.

Thanks for dropping by, Peter