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The Good Place: A society to match the scenery (Michael L. Umphrey on gardening, teaching, and neighboring)


A third reality (19 of 24)
   The way of the teacher


It is both our plight and our majesty that no one can be forced to see higher realities. We all need to be taught to see them. And only by seeing them can we freely choose them. Our plight is that we cannot simply engineer the sort of world we want to live in, and our majesty is that we are irreducibly free. At some level, others need to get our understanding and our assent to do much with us. They need to teach.

A few small societies such as families and religious communities have experienced the highest level: the reality of peace. Though it is based on law, it cannot be established by law, because the members need to freely choose it. They need to be drawn toward it by love.

Societies of law struggle to see that justice is done but justice isn’t enough. The truth is that all of us have something to fear from justice. All of us have done things we don’t want examined in a court room by zealous questioners. We know we need forgiveness, so although law remains, mercy grows out of it and tempers it.

Since we live in part by trespassing and being trespassed, and since being wronged is the human condition, those who walk the road to peace find at every fork forgiveness is one of the choices. If they choose the other way, they find the road turns back and descends easily and steadily. So returning to the way becomes the daily work.

Societies of peace rely on the methods of teachers: persuasion, patience, and unfeigned care. An economy of peace is an order in which gift plays a powerful part. Trade remains, but theft does not. The future’s uncertainty is reduced through covenants, promises exchanged with concern about the well-being of the other in mind. What one can give is often more important than what one might get.

Many of us reach a commitment to living peacefully after trying other methods. People who are most committed to peace usually have their scars. They are not naive about the challenges life throws in our way. Sometimes they are accused of being too idealistic.

But in seeing the highest reality, they may be understood as the true realists.

Posted by Michael L Umphrey

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