Dear Shari and Toby,
Spiritual Landmarks - ATTITUDES
Attitudes form the world we live in. Since our view of everything we experience is filtered through our attitude, the world as we see it is formed by our attitudes. This means the world I live in is different than the world you live in. The same stimuli we both see each day are received and interpreted differently according to our attitudes. The end result is that what works for me in my world may not work for you in your world. The following discussion of specific attitudes is provided as food for thought. Although our worlds are different, they are not opposites but the same world with a slight shift of the center. This means we share many of the same attitudes and their results but may not view a common neutral position. The attitude and its associated extreme results are still there. These are spiritual objects with spiritual results. The spiritual results are reflected in our mental decision making, affecting our physical actions and reactions. The previous letter on Mental Landmarks provides guides for making logical decisions. These mental landmarks are based on spiritual landmarks. It is necessary to have well defined spiritual landmarks guiding our mental decisions. We may not have time to form or reform them when decision time arrives. Our attitudes are the summation of our life experiences. What we see, read, hear, or think is forming our spirit/attitudes. With so many competing attitudes expressing themselves in our lives how do we know which to adopt and which to avoid? This mental decision will be guided by the Spirit/Attitude with the highest priority in your life and the collective mental understanding of your experiences. Many times, this understanding is not readily available when needed but only come with experience and growth.
Buda provides a good example of shifting priorities and realigning attitudes when he addresses the elderly lady in the following story. An elderly lady who needed a cane to walk was passing a boisterous young man on a road traveling in the opposite direction. The rude young man told the lady to get out of the road he would not share it with her. The lady only had time to advance a couple of steps which were to the side allowing all the road for the man. The man shoved the lady down simply because he could, kicked her a few times and laughed. The boy was dirty and obviously not well raised. Buda, sitting under a tree away from the road, came to the lady’s aid. When he helped her up the kind lady said she felt sorry for the disadvantaged boy and wished to find a way to help him learn better. Buda said she had the opportunity to teach him in her hand but did not use it.
Another, more personal story about my father and the guilt he showed illustrates the difficulty in utilizing all your experience to do the right thing. We were fortunate in my last few years at home to have a motor boat large enough to ski behind. During the winter it stayed covered up in a shed. When my dad uncovered it one spring he discovered the motor was missing. It was recovered by the police as part of several pieces of stolen property associated with the boy, Eddie, next door and his friends. My dad chose not to press charges and Eddie did not go to jail. A few years later, Eddie and his brother, Bobby, were shot to death, on separate occasions, due to their continued involvement in illegal matters. I still remember the guilt and regret in his face when my dad read of Eddie’s death in the newspaper and told me “I guess I should have pressed charges when he stole the boat motor.”
The following attitudes reflect what I believe in and what I hope you have adopted or can embrace. Many times, our attitudes as children filter our parent’s actions and the resulting interpretation may be quite different than the concept offered by the parent. Also, parents may not consistently project the attitude they want. Some of the following may provide a better perspective than was presented as you grew up. I hope these will help establish priorities in your decision making. They are presented in order of priority from most important to less important.
1. A person’s spirit is like a musical chord. It is made of many notes. If the frequency of vibration of each note is in harmony with the other notes, a melodic sound is the result. If the notes vary in pitch just a little, a sour sound occurs. Be consistent and true in the sound you present with your life. Be someone who has a clear understanding of good and bad, right and wrong, and can be depended upon to choose to do the best he can to be true to that understanding. This attitude / spirit is much like learning to play the piano. When we are young, we try to make music and fail. As we practice and get more experience the music starts to come. This is why parents may not always play a song correctly for their children but, they should not stop trying. Life is a work in progress.
2. Similar to #1 above, you should always be counted on to tell the truth. This does not mean the twisted version of truth displaying only the viewpoint benefiting your interest. It is the truth, to the best of your ability, considering the interest of all parties and valuing the well being of all parties equally. Resist the temptation to present only popular or personally benefitted opinions to sway others to do what you want or for personal gain at other’s expense. You may be better liked by others and materially better off if you learn to debate effectively by swaying opinion in a desired direction with slanted presentations and opinions. The price you will pay for this gain is living with the discord, confusion, and loss of direction in your own spirit and soul.
3. Similar to #1
above, you should always be counted on to respect other’s property and
feelings. To devalue other’s property by theft, inconsiderate use or abuse is
saying to them “I do not value you as a person as much as I value myself”. When
it comes to valuing other’s feelings it requires an effort to understand what
those feeling are. The more you value that person, the more you will invest in
If I know what those feelings are I try to consider them as much as my own. If a person’s presentation of his feelings is inconsistent, I usually will not guess at them and do not provide as much consideration for them. This may not be the best practice and often leads to conflict. This is probably the largest difference between male and female attitudes. Males are usually concerned with inadequate actions resulting from guessing the intensity of other’s feelings and females are concerned with inappropriate actions from not guessing the intensity of other’s feelings.
This attitude was best summed up by Jesus as “love your neighbor as yourself”.