React or Respond: There is Always a Choice

What the soul sees and has experienced, that it knows; the rest is appearance, prejudice and opinion.”

― Sri Aurobindo

“What do you think about that?” someone said to me, referencing something they had heard.

“I have no opinion, because I have no knowledge of what happened,” says I.

Why do people expect you to jump into a conversatioyou have no first-hand experience about? I have found over the years, at least for me, that supporting someone else’s thought becomes a brainless and uncaring act, unless I first know for myself what the many sides of an issue or thought represent and more importantly, where I stand on an issue, if I have a stand at all.

Most of the time I keep my opinions to myself, because I realize that my opinion normally represents a limited understanding of a complex problem, and, if I haven’t fully explored the many facets of a usually simple statement that has been queried, I am only reacting to it, not responding intelligently.

I have found reactions are usually made out of fear of losing something. People are living in such fear today; fear of bodily harm, fear of some right being taken away, fear of being deported, fear of being outed. Fear is a strong and very limiting emotion. It makes us do crazy and unimaginable things. There are people waste their entire lives, promoting fear through words, violence, and making things up about others.

I remember when Hurricane Matthew was bearing down on us in 2016, the SJC Emergency Management Director came through on my cell phone screaming that I had to leave my house right now and evacuate or “I would die!”

I’ve lived through cat4 hurricanes in the Caribbean and Florida. I’ve been a contractor in both places and had major success in not just surviving hurricanes, but thriving during them. I would never put myself in an unreasonable risk situation. I’ve normally lived on islands where you couldn’t escape anyway, so you hunker down and pray for the best. Florida is no different. There’s nowhere to go, unless you leave many days before the track is even locked in by our weather guessers. And, as a contractor, I know that, if a building has been built to code, you may get wet, but are probably safe otherwise. If I hit the road, chances are I could end up riding the storm out in the Walmart parking lot in Palatka. That would be less fun than sitting in a foot of water saving what I can of my belongings.

Anyway, you get the point, fear is our worst enemy, and if we buy into it, we’re already lost. If we are reasonable and don’t allow fear to be our guide, the world really doesn’t look that bad. I approach incidents and situations on a one-off. I trust until I’m shown someone or something is untrustworthy. I try not to judge by ethnicity, race, religious beliefs or social position, but I am sometimes ashamed of my behavior, and try to be better, when I catch myself.

There is no place in my life for hate. It only makes life a hell. I see so many people living their lives in a self-imposed hell today. I choose not to. Life in this body is too short. I learned a while ago, I’d rather be happy than right. That’s a story for another time.


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