“Jimmy, why did you hit Bobby?” I ask.
“Because” Jimmy says, “he’s not coloring the ocean blue. The ocean is supposed to be blue. I told him to color his water blue and he won’t listen.”
“So, you got mad?” I say.
“And you hit him to make him do what you wanted him to do?”
“No, it wasn’t like that. He’s not doing it RIGHT. The ocean is supposed to be blue.”
“So, Bobby is coloring his picture of his world differently than you think the world is supposed to look?” I say, “And you don’t like the way he sees the world because it doesn’t match the way you see it, so, you got mad at him and tried to make him do it the way you think it needs to be done. You hurt Bobby because you wanted him to make his world your way? Is that what happened?”
“Ugh,” Jimmy says, “Yes, I got mad because he ain’t doing right. And he won’t listen to me when I try to tell him the right way to do it.”
“And how is that hurting you?” the teacher asks.
“But it’s supposed to be blue!” Jimmy is clearly upset that anyone could see the ocean as green, black, and purple instead of blue.
“And how is that hurting you?” I ask again.
“But…oceans are blue.”
“Your ocean is blue,” I say. “Bobby’s ocean is multicolored. What if you color your world and Bobby colors his world and you don’t try to force Bobby’s world to look just like yours? Then you will both have a better day.”
“I want you to make him do it right,” Jimmy says sullenly.
“Do you want to be right or happy?” I ask.
Jimmy and Bobby both look at me, confusion etched across their little faces.
I explain. “I’m not going to force Bobby to color his ocean the way you want it to be. However, if you insist on being right, and hitting Bobby because he made a choice that’s different than yours, then you are going to find yourself in a very unhappy position, or you can accept that Bobby is different than you and that it’s okay for other people to see the world differently, mind your own business, color your own ocean and have a peaceful, happy day. The choice is yours. So, do you want to be right or be happy?”
Jimmy thinks hard for a moment. Letting go of the need to be right is tough. Then he says, “I’d rather be happy.”
Bobby pipes up, “Me, too. I like to be happy.” He proceeds to draw a purple sun in the sky.
Jimmy visibly cringes, but he chooses to be happy, at least for now. He hasn’t seen Sophia’s spotted, flying unicorn fish yet.
The Secret of Peace
Jimmy’s teacher is trying to let him in on a secret. It’s the secret of peace. If we want peace in our lives, then we must stop trying to control the actions of others.
No wonder Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.” That doesn’t mean we go around settling arguments but that we facilitate inner peace. Outer peace without inner peace is impossible.
The secret to having outer peace in the world is more people with inner peace!
As adults, we are not so different than Jimmy, concerned about what someone else is doing. Perhaps, it would be good if we could learn the lesson Jimmy’s teacher is trying to teach him. We don’t need to control others and the only actions we are ultimately responsible for are our own.
Ironically, we can see the tiniest faults in the behaviors of others yet neglect to see similar things in ourselves. Jesus once responded to some critics by saying they had the ability to see a speck of dust in someone else’s eyes but couldn’t see the giant beam sticking out of their own.
If I had a quarter for every time a child has come up to me and reported on the affairs of others in hopes that I would “punish” the other child, I think (maybe playfully) I would be as rich as Elon Musk! It seems to start early, this need to control others, even when those actions have nothing to do with us. Kids will often say things like, “Make them let me play with their toy.” Or, “Make them play with me.” Translation: “Do what I want YOU to do and MAKE THEM behave the way I want them to behave.”
Sadly, this desire to control and punish others often doesn’t end when childhood ends. It just graduates and grows bigger and instead of making someone give up their toy or play with them, the controllers want to dictate how others should live their lives. They want to invade neighboring countries, take over their resources and control their populations.
How much pain and suffering in the world would be alleviated if world leaders didn’t try to make other countries conform to their wishes? If they didn’t invade and seek control? What if everyone in the world were truly empathic? What if we realized our Connectedness?
Peace on Earth
When Jesus was born, the angels spoke to shepherds proclaiming peace on earth, but of course, the world hasn’t been at “peace” since that time, but in the biblical sense, peace doesn’t mean the absence of war. It means inner tranquility, staying calm regardless of what others are doing or saying. In other words, inner peace is only found when we let go of the need to control others.
Just as Jimmy isn’t justified in dictating how Bobby colors or one child isn’t justified in forcing others to play, we are never justified in wanting to control the feelings and thoughts of others.
It’s far too common and too easy to focus on the negative aspects of others, to talk bad about them and try to make them behave the way we want them to, but it’s a losing battle and in the end, we accomplish nothing but destroying our own peace of mind and happiness. I once heard a very young minister named Randy (who knows? Maybe he is reading this post right now!) say, “You can’t legislate morality.” He was right. Kindness, goodness, empathy, joy, love….those things must come from the inside out and be voluntary. If you force people into, it’s not real and sooner or later the sleeping demons of self-righteousness, greed and power will awaken.
LET IT GO!
Peter, an early follower of Jesus, wrote, “Do not repay injury for or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay injury with kindness, because to this you were invited so that you may obtain adulation. For whoever would take pleasure in, long for, and enjoy life (both physical and spiritual, present and future) and experience good days must restrain his language from injurious and their lips from treacherous (deceitful and harmful) speech. They must cease from doing injury and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it.”
Likewise, Paul, also a student of Jesus once told a group of Thessalonians who were in The Way to aspire to live quiet and peaceful lives, to mind their own business and work with their own hands.
A passage from Psalms keeps going through my head:
46:10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
The words “be still” there denote a “letting go” or “falling into.” In other words, as Elsa says in Frozen, “Let it Go!” The word “know” means to recognize, get it, or understand.
So, we could put it in the modern vernacular, “Let it go! Relax, and recognize…” What are we recognizing? We are recognizing that I Am God. Which God? The I AM. And what are we recognizing? The fact that I Am is God! And what ever you need I Am is. Nothing is impossible with I Am God. Nothing.
Peace comes when we let go and relax in the knowledge that the Almighty Source of all that is or has been or ever will be is in control. Peace comes when we realize that a person’s life-worth doesn’t consist of our possessions, or what color we paint our oceans.
Stillness and tranquility set things in order in the universe.
Dyer, Wayne W.. Living the Wisdom of the Tao (p. 93). Hay House. Kindle Edition.
as it is stilled.
And out of that stillness
Dyer, Wayne W.. Living the Wisdom of the Tao (p. 33). Hay House. Kindle Edition.