Can you be in multiple places at any given time? Most would argue that the answer is simply, ‘no.' It may be surprising, then, that my goal today is not only to make the case that you can be in two places at once, but to plead with you to live your life with both feet firmly planted there.
It’s taken years to begin to unearth this truth, but I’ve come to recognize that two places that once felt impossibly distant from one another can and should be in the same place.
You see, on the one hand, you read sacred texts from throughout time and religious persuasion that teach us that we should stand our ground and live unapologetically according to the truths of God. On the other, those same holy books admonish us to find our common ground with those around us and to love and care for them. Secularized morality encourages the same practices.
Yet, on each side, there’s a sense that in order to focus on our commonalities, you must adopt a life of moral relativism and soft beliefs. But, if you focus on unapologetically living according to the dictates of your moral code, you must become bigoted and personally opposed to anyone who chooses to live alternatively.
I’ve worked through this dissonance and was surprised that the way you achieve that elusive state-of-being is rather simple: stop allowing fear lead the way and stop focusing on what people are not.
Standing your ground becomes simpler when you’re willing to be vulnerable and live your ideals regardless of the potential scorn of others. You need to be brave. You need to recognize a dependence on some higher power that you can’t see or control. In order to be sustained in that lifestyle, you also need faith to be your motivator, not fear. Then, and only then does your faith become vibrant and viable.
Alternatively, in order to find common ground you have to live in a place of empathy. A place where you are willing to connect deeply with others. To allow yourself connect with something deep inside of you and experience with someone the same things that often made you feel alone. The biggest hindrance to this is focusing on what others are not.
'At least they’re not in this circumstance.' 'They can’t understand because they’re not as busy, or as enlightened, or as virtuous as me.' When we are brutally honest with ourselves, we often find that we are apt to put people in boxes that remove themselves from us because of what they are not. This is destructive and divisive and absolutely dangerous to the place that holds not only our ability to stand our ground but to find our common.
The place we must reside is in moral decency. It’s an enigmatic spot where you are both bound to do what you know is right while, at the same time, and in the same place, you are bound to love and connect with the person who doesn’t.
In this sacred space, you experience an indescribable phenomena where you are given power. Power to live more boldly and authentically, while still connecting with people who seem entirely different from you.
Think of fear. Think of the conflict-ridden society we now live in. We cannot afford to live with smooth faith and soft ideals. Nor can we afford to keep others at arm's length because of their differences: their race, their religion, their sexuality, political affiliation or anything else.
Religious freedom is dependent upon our ability to harness that power. To value the equitable treatment of all people. To fight for that. We cannot afford for liberty to be one sided. In that world your faith is vulnerable to the winds and whims of societal change.
The truth is, moral decency is hard. Tormenting crags will encircle you. The ground will shake. Your knees will tremble, and yet I ask you to stand. Stand for what is right. Stand for the common truth we all know. We are children of someone or something that is more than us. And so we must live in that place. Far above the things that destroy our connection but wedged in-between a rock and a a hard place. Because then, and only then, can we be in the two places that we must be in, at one time.