A few days ago I was in a well-known fast food restaurant chain with my friend Craig. I won’t say which chain it was in order to protect the confidentiality of the young man working there. I’ll call him Ryan. Craig and his friend Lee come to this particular restaurant at least once a week and they have deemed Ryan their favorite, so Ryan always waits on them.
I asked Ryan about the obligatory salads offered by this chain and he admitted he didn’t eat them often. We continued on this topic, him advising me on menu choices. Then I asked if, as an employee, he was allowed to eat for free. The unsurprising answer: No. Business was slow right then, so what followed was a wide-ranging discussion of the plight of fast food workers, sprinkled with revelations about how poorly he and the other employees are treated by their supervisor. Other workers chimed in to confirm Ryan’s stories. “You need a union,” I kept saying, but I knew none of these young people would follow through on such advice.
We went to Craig’s favorite table in the far corner. “You and Lee could do something about this,” I told Craig, but Craig just laughed.
You see, Craig and Lee are spiritual masters. Trust me on this: it is simply something I know. Craig tells me they do their work on the energetic planes. I’m not certain what that means but I have faith in their powers of manifestation. So I said again, “Really, Craig. You and Lee could do something about this.”
Notice I didn’t tell him they should do something. One doesn’t tell a spiritual master should—just like I don’t tell him they should frequent some nice little vegan place with lentils and bulgur, and drink smoothies and herbal tea instead of Cherry Dr. Pepper (Ugh! Tastes like children’s cough medicine, but the particular spiritual master I happen to know drinks it by the gallon!)
So I said, “You and Lee could do something about this.”
Craig said, “It doesn’t work that way.”
I told Craig I felt like Mary at the wedding in Cana. She said to Jesus, “They have no more wine.” He said, “Woman, it is not my time.”
Mary didn’t say anything more to Jesus; she just called over the waiter, pointed to Jesus and told the waiter to do his bidding. Mary was a woman who knew how to get things done.
So I said, “But Craig, Ryan’s not getting his state mandated breaks. Ryan’s being cheated out of overtime pay.” But Craig isn’t Jesus, and I’m not Craig’s mother.
Craig said he and Lee had to work with prevailing consciousness. He feels the issues Ryan and other fast food workers are having come under the larger context of RESPECT. Ryan’s employer doesn’t respect him. In fact, respect seems to be in short supply these days.
Now if you’re like me, you read that last sentence and you thought, “That is so true! So many people are disrespectful these days. I run into them all the time. Thank God I’m not like that.” Yeah, that’s what I thought when I wrote it too.
I like to occasionally post political content on my Facebook page. Not often, but once in a while. Usually stuff poking fun at the other side, occasionally something praising my side. This past week every time I’ve posted something political, a friend I used to work with has hit me with a challenging comment from the other end of the political spectrum. I ignored the first one. I just didn’t want to get into it. But now he’s peppered me with five or six comments in as many days. I’m annoyed at him. I don’t want to discuss these issues with him; I just want him to stop! How respectful am I being if I won’t allow him the same space to express himself that I allow myself?
Anyway this has led me to consider that maybe I simply shouldn’t post political content. If I’m not willing to do the work of educating and debating, then maybe I should keep my mouth shut. Not saying I will, just saying I’m mulling it over.
But getting back to Craig’s assessment of the “prevailing consciousness.” I told him that every poll I read shows Congress has a very low approval rating. That people are sick of partisanship and refusal to compromise. If this is the prevailing consciousness, then how can this situation persist?
“Is that really what people want?” he prompted.
“No,” I realized, answering my own question. “They say they want cooperation, but what they really want is what they want. They want their side to win. They want their point of view to prevail.” And so we have deadlock.
Okay, it’s taken me a long time to get here, but here’s my call to action: we need to respect each other. We need to listen to other people’s point of view. We can start small; listen carefully to your family and your co-workers. Listen to people you disagree with. Listen.
Yes, I know I sound simplistic and naïve. You know what? I don’t care. This is important. Please affirm every day that you respect all the people in your life. Please affirm that you respect the animals and environment. Advocate for what you believe in, but listen to the other side. Listen.
Already I’m thinking the other side needs to listen to me and my side! But whom do I need to listen to? What do I need to hear? This will be very challenging for me. I’m not sure how well I will do with this. Please let me know how this works for you.