The Golden Rule
The circumstances in which we find ourselves are, to one degree or another, a combination of external factors and individual choices. The amount of control we have to alter those circumstances also varies. But as Rev. Joanne reminds us in her second talk in a series of six, what we always have control of is how we choose to respond. We can choose to “dance” no matter what is occurring, and the umbrellas displayed onstage are designed to give us the idea that we can dance even when it is raining, even when challenges appear. We have the umbrella of the Spirit of God within us, and can always choose to dance in love.
Last week, Rev. Joanne spoke about dancing in love, opening that power within us, allowing the power of loving wisdom to inspire us to live our teachings of Truth. But we cannot just dance alone, she reminds us. We need to dance with one another. From the Gospel of John:
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven. John 20:19-22
The events in this passage, Rev. Joanne explains, take place the day following Jesus’s resurrection. The disciples had by that time heard that Mary Magdalene had seen Jesus alive and walking and talking. Then Jesus suddenly appeared among them saying, “Peace be with you.” In those words, she tells us, we hear what it means to dance with one another, a dance of peace on Spirit’s movement, seeing one another, wounds and all, and recognizing the Divine Christ is here with us. Unity teaches that the Divine Christ is within us, and that we can trust that Spirit to bring us to that place where we can dance together in peace.
Traditional Christianity teaches the doctrine of The Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Unity also teaches about the Trinity, but in a different way. God the Father, Rev. Joanne explains, is Divine Mind Consciousness; God the Son is the Christ that is within each person, that was so perfectly demonstrated in the life of Jesus; God the Holy Spirit is the movement that allows us to demonstrate that Spirit, that is, we become as God when we live these teachings and the Spirit of God comes alive within us.
It is not enough to know the Truth, we must live the Truth we know. This is the fifth principle in one of Unity’s core teachings – The Five Principles (click here for more info). Rev. Joanne tells us that this is the movement of the Holy Spirit, and when that Spirit moves in us we will dance the dance of life together.
When dancing with a partner, it requires that one person lead and the other follow in order for them to be able to move together in rhythm. We are all unique, Rev. Joanne says, and are not all called to be “little Jesuses.” Where we can get into trouble with our dancing together is when we want everyone to see things and do things and to be things just like us. Dancing together, she says, is not about forcing one another to show up exactly as we would want, looking exactly alike and thinking the same ideas, but for each of us to find that wisdom of God within us that expresses that.
Unity has a long tradition of teaching cooperation with others. Rev. Joanne shares a passage from Unity Minister Eric Butterworth (1916-2003):
One thing about life is certain: unless you are a hermit, you will live and work with people. Unless you can get along with them and at least partly enjoy the experience, this fact can make life a heavy burden.
It is normal to want to be with only those people with whom you are comfortable, but this is neither realistic nor healthy. If you were surrounded only with those who agree with you, life would be quite static. This is an observation which bears relation to the state of many marriages. Where there are no differences, there is apt to be much indifference. If two persons only agree, then there is nothing creative or dynamic in the relationship.1
Words that are truly words of wisdom are always relevant. Though written more than forty five years ago, what Butterworth says is as true today as it was then. Rev. Joanne tells us that during this time of polarity in which we live it is human nature to find our “tribe,” to be with those with whom we “belong,” so we are automatically drawn to people who think like us. She cautions us, however, that if we do not move beyond the ideas we hold, how will we be able to grow, evolve, and transform not only our own individual lives but the lives of all of humanity. Everyone’s voice is important, she continues, and we must find a way to move out of an either/or way of thinking so that we become more and more inclusive. It is [better to be] both/and and not either/or.
I agree that this is an excellent idea and goal we should aspire to. But we must also realize that different ways of thinking can be counter to the core of what we believe in, and can be not just detrimental to our way of life but perhaps completely destructive of it. Listening to those with whom we disagree, truly listening, is a necessary first step in successfully dancing together, and we must resist the urge to marginalize others in an Us vs. Them way of thinking. (Us and them, and after all we’re only ordinary men. Me and you, God only knows it’s not what we would choose to do.2)
So how do we create a world that works for all, even for people with whom we disagree, Rev. Joanne asks? The Golden Rule – Treat others how you want to be treated. This maxim is common to virtually every spiritual tradition, and is perhaps the single most fundamental idea of fairness. In his “I Have a Dream Speech” during the March on Washington on August 28, 1963, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. famously said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Click here for full text, courtesy NAACP.
While there is still work to be done in achieving King’s dream, great strides have been achieved in the fifty eight years since that speech. I remain hopeful and optimistic that by truly listening to one another, and by seeing first the Christ Light that is within every one of us, that we will successfully be able to dance together and make a world that works for all.
Now Go and Be the Light.
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7
Dancing requires that we pay attention to our dance partners. It requires finding a rhythm together. Consider the relationships in you life. Where are you out of step with your partners? What is one step you can take this week to find rhythm together in those challenges?
You have the power to adjust your rhythms the way you relate to others. Choose one new way to relate to others this week.
1Butterworth, Eric, Essays on Abundant Living, September 2, 1975. https://www.truthunity.net/pubs/eric-butterworth/eric-butterworth-speaks/1975-09-02
2Pink Floyd, Us and Them, EMI Records, 1974. Richard Wright and Rogers Waters.