My neighbor Rick is a retired homicide detective. Nearly every workday for 25 years Rick went to crime scenes where someone had been murdered. While you might expect that Rick would be quite hardboiled after such a grisly career, he is a very gentle, sensitive man. He cried when he learned that one of our neighbor’s dogs had died.
One day while walking our dogs together, I asked Rick, “What was your experience being a homicide detective for all those years?” I expected Rick to answer something like, “There are lots of sick people out there.” To my surprise, he answered, “I met a lot of really nice people.”
James Allen said, “Two men looked out through prison bars. One saw mud, the other stars.” The world we see is a function of the perception we are using to see it. A Course in Miracles tells us that perception is a choice, not a fact. At every moment we are choosing the world we live in by virtue of the vision we employ. Meaning is not absolute. It is attributed.
When Dee and I lived in a rural area, late one night we heard a prowler on our porch. When we confronted him, we found a young guy on drugs, who apologized for being there. He seemed harmless and, disoriented, he couldn’t find his way off our farm property in the dark, so I gave him a ride back to the encampment where he was living.
The next day we made a police report. The officer arrived and told us we should have called 911 at the time of the incident. Dee told the officer that we prefer to see the good in people. The policeman replied, “There are an awful lot of bad people out there.” Indeed there are. Selfishness, fraud, evil, and cruelty are rampant. There are many good reasons to be wary. Yet blessings and grace are also rampant. The darker the darkness, the brighter the light that comes to offset it. When a coronavirus or a natural disaster shows up, many people pull together to help each other. Hardship brings out the worst in people. It also brings out the best.
I am not suggesting you entertain burglars or be naïve when confronted with a scam. I am suggesting that there is another way of seeing that brings relief, empowerment, and positive results. There is a fine line between naiveté and innocent vision. If you ask for guidance as to how to deal with any particular situation, you will receive it.
The difference between faith-based vision and fear-based vision has never been more apparent in our world. Two polar opposite realities exist simultaneously on our planet. Politics in our country have become tribal. A survey after the first presidential debate indicated that 98% of viewers had made up their mind about who they would vote for before the debate even began. Everyone is lining up in one reality or another, each of which will deliver results based on the values that characterize it.
I observe two types of people relating to coronavirus: those who plunge into deep fear and protectionism, and those who trust that we will make it through this challenge, and we can help each along the way. While many people hide, others are reaching out. There may be social distance, there is no spiritual distance. The more you hide, the more you need to hide. The more you reach out, the more the truth of connection proves itself.
The gift behind a polarized world is that both belief systems are exaggerated and magnified to such a point that they each reveal their character without a doubt. Fear proves itself hollow, and trust proves itself solid. If God can give a homicide detective the heart and vision to see good in spite of the cruelty of humanity, you and I can hold faith in a fearful world. Then we become a light not just to ourselves, but to everyone who is ready to shift their vision from mud to stars.