Our skills are many, which we acquire over time with dedicated study and practice. These are generally useful to us and others, but among the ones we are especially good at, unfortunately, is the setting of traps for ourselves in the judgments we make. 

The question of how much we like or dislike a person, object, feeling, experience or idea, is certain to color our reaction as it unfolds. Our judgments can be as mundane as an attitude about a Paris fashion or as serious as a matter of dire concern. The result is either pleasing or it isn’t.

Westerners in particular, it seems, tend to see in black or white. A person not viewed as a winner, for instance, is apt to be branded a loser. Or at least as someone worthy of little interest. 

Likewise, we obsess over good and bad, subconsciously guided to one label or the other, affixing it here and there automatically. Simple issues of personal taste can quickly turn a dialogue into a feud. We have different ideas about everything under the sun. Is it any wonder these days that complication and polarization prevail?

As a further complication, our certainties are not always certain. Think about how we think of war and peace. When we are not at war, are we at peace? Hardly. War and peace exist as relative values on the wheel personal experience. The fabric of our lives is woven of both. 

Love is another virtue that is often misrepresented. So much gets confused with emotion. It is said that every human act is either an expression of love or a cry for help. Where emotion runs deep, however, even a so-called act of love is tinged with insecurity as well. 

And although we are loathe to admit it, romantic love is transient, a form of emotional attachment. Its passion is bound to diminish. Complication, over time, tends to encumber even our most ardent relationships. Love of God and the grandeur of God’s creation is the only love that is ever truly expansive, for it alone is unaffected by circumstance, condition or result. It alone is free of personal motive.

But is love of God a practical response to the whirl of our daily lives. Does it make sense to accept, without judgment, whatever comes our way? St. Francis gave thanks for all he received, no matter how meager or rude, as exactly what God had in mind for his spiritual growth. Was he just a good-hearted fool?

I doubt there is anything more difficult than letting go of one’s emotional investments, living without attachment to the outcome of our endeavors, and learning to surrender our likes and dislikes for the sake of our higher welfare. Yet, how else can we escape the sway of our fears? What chance do we have of that if we continue to give a thumbs up or down to every person, item and event that enters our field of awareness? 

As duality ordains, every plus requires a canceling minus. Like night and day, every want must include its twin, whether in actual occurrence or the apprehension of same.

Of all the options we face, there is really but one that matters. Either we roll our emotional investments into a more refined portfolio of divine stocks and bonds – compassion, forgiveness, introspection, meditation and simple living – or we keep falling short of the capital needed for inner peace, contentment and unconditional love.

Could it be that faith in God is, after all, the most practical choice before us?

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