• 112th International Peace Meditation “Accepting What We Know”

    “Accepting What We Know”

    April 2, 2006 — Our need to know increases as our media seems to shrink. A limited number of stories, frequently almost the same selection, are featured on each television station. The question of what we need to know that we are not learning about should be of great concern to each of us. While it may not be possible to scout every media source, local, national, and international, to get accurate and complete information, we need to step back and question if what is being reported for our consumption is true.

    Many of us learned that the responsibility of a journalist is to give the facts, without opinion. Opinion columns in newspapers and magazines were to be reserved for a point of view. As we change channels on our TV stations, many of us are aware that conservative reporting of the news may be found on some channels, while reporting from a more liberal position is on others. Some channels appear to favor current governmental administrations while others condemn or at least speculate upon their motives. It is difficult to obtain news without receiving it from a prescribed point of view.

    We should be very concerned about how “facts” are represented to us. Perhaps we should question why we have allowed huge media conglomerates to interpret the world for us. In particular, we need to question whether we are getting the whole story, or whether it is being contrived to lead our thinking in a particular direction. This is not to support conspiracy theories, but to cause us to stop and ask if what we are seeing and hearing is the complete picture. And if not, why not?

    One area some of us find troubling is the possible manipulation of facts about those things we cannot yet understand. Interest in the long recorded history of UFO sightings has been attributed to those on the fringe of society. To even question the possibility of intervention is to cause oneself to be cast into a sub-class of society, with descriptors of freak, cult, and other uncomplimentary terms. Documentaries seem to end with debunking to such a degree that a questioning mind has to be appalled. Why are we afraid to talk about that which at this time has no answers? Why does so much fear surround the topic? Why do documents remain classified long past any apparent necessity? Why are pilots, governmental officials, and many other respected reporters being treated as being subversive or lying? Why is there such mystery and suspicion? Why are we afraid?

    Even as I write, I find myself concerned about how this newsletter, and I, will be viewed simply for asking questions. Yet, to be a free society, we must never stop asking questions, and we must recognize when others try to stop our questioning. In other words, we must be alert and awake if we want to remain free!

    The ability to see the bigger picture and to always question accepted explanations is essential to freedom. Freedom begins in the mind. We must know what we Know. In other words, we must not simply accept what others give to us as truth, especially if that “truth” does not ring true within us.

    If we have already lost touch with what “ring true” means, this is where we must begin. We are socialized to accept society’s norms, and this is good to an extent. When we rebel, or simply don’t know how to act appropriately, there is frequently a cost to our career or even our credibility. We are socialized to behave in certain ways in a variety of situations in order to function successfully in society. We dress up for some occasions; take off hats for some; act serene in some; and perhaps cheerful in others. Who would attend a funeral in beachwear? Who would go to Court looking unkempt? There are expectations, and the one who does not conform will not go unnoticed.

    Those are simple ways in which we conform to be accepted. However, when we allow our minds to accept whatever we are told without question, we are left to act like docile children. That is not the role of an adult! An adult processes information received and must determine if it meets criteria for truth, beginning with, “Does it feel right?” What was the body language of the one who told us? What was the tone of voice? When our gut reacted, did we try to pacify ourselves with information that negated our initial doubt? Why do we react negatively to some people in power even as what they tell us is given as complete “truth”? Perhaps it’s time we listened more to our own internal reactions instead of accepting the information from media, politicians, religious leaders, corporate leaders, teachers, and others, as truth.

    How do we know “truth” when we see or hear it? We won’t always. But we will have a much better chance if we trust our guts, and question. When we follow anyone or anything without question we are likely to get into trouble. Consider the abused woman who believes that her husband loves her because he says that he does, even as he continues to abuse her. She is believing what she wants to believe, and not trusting her gut. Love does not abuse. Love in our religious institutions does not lead to violence. If it leads to violence, it is not Love!

    Love in our families is not “love” if a person is being manipulated to serve the needs of another. Ask yourself if you and your spouse or significant other truly have love. Consider the attributes of one who is loving: concern, caring, ability to sacrifice for the needs of the other while recognizing one’s own needs. If one partner looks only after her or his own needs, that is selfishness, not love. If one is unyielding and refuses to see the needs of the other, that is not love. If one must always “win” or convince the other that his/her needs are unimportant, that is not love! Love recognizes the needs of the other as well as oneself. Anything less is manipulation.

    The bigger questions might be, “Are we being manipulated to believe certain things as truth and others as lies? Are we giving blind allegiance to anything-our religions, governments, politicians?” We are adults, and to remain free adults we must insist on being independent thinkers first, and allowed to express that opinion without fear of reprisal. Only then are we free. This is true whether we work for government, or we lead congregations. It is truth that sets us free. It is lack of recognizing truth that has the capacity to enslave us.

    We need to learn to trust our “guts” more fully, and question why afterward. Consider animals: they know instinctually whom they can trust. They know their predators. When they become domesticated, they tend to lose some of that instinct, and will even return willingly and lovingly to their abuser. That similar loss of instinct can cause us to lose our freedom, and it can cause us to lose our lives. Failing to recognize human predators in spite of their words that we should trust them, has caused many to fall victim. We need to remember this when we want to place childlike trust in our media. We don’t know the influences behind the media, and the real reasons for their point-of-view reporting. We do know that the tenets of good journalism require reporting facts without opinion, and separating opinion from simply reporting. Consider the media reports you hear and ask yourself if the media are meeting the tenets of good reporting? If not, why not?

    The world has become smaller. We no longer live in small tribal societies, or even small towns, without the interaction of the larger society. Believing that all citizens are bad because their leadership is bad, will only lead to more war. Believing that those who follow a religious tradition are bad because some followers may blame their own radical behavior on their religion, is dangerous. Believing that it is acceptable to kill citizens because their government and religious leaders are filled with hate and fear, is wrong. We need to put the blame where it belongs, and we must not characterize groups of people by the aberrant behavior of a few. We must hold the leadership accountable; we must allow the people to be free.

    If we cannot examine information for ourselves, we are not free. If we are manipulated for the purposes of others, whether in our families or our countries, we are not free. If we are not allowed to question, even the areas that many fear to question such as the entire UFO phenomenon, we are not free. If we are cast as cult-like or worse for simply wanting to investigate the unknown, we are not free. If we are not allowed to express our opinions or our talents, we are not free. If we are afraid, we are not free.

    Freedom begins in our minds and is expressed in our actions. In your job, relationships, country, and religious life, are you free?

    This Meditation is dedicated to our right to be free as a vital and necessary foundation of being Human. Let’s consider the question together: “In all of these circumstances, am I truly free?”

    Sue Kidd Shipe, Ph.D.
    Executive Director

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