Zoom Meeting Sermon February 19 2023

 

Topic: Core Tenet #8 and Treating People as Things

Today we are going to talk about Core Tenet #8. First, I would like to read the full quote that this Core Tenet is based on:

“And sin, young man, is when you treat people as things. Including yourself. That’s what sin is.”

This quote comes from the Discworld novel “Carpe Jugulum” by Terry Pratchett. The one delivering this profound statement is the witch and Patron Saint of the Path Esmerelda “Granny” Weatherwax. She is speaking to a young priest, who objects, claiming that there must be more to it than that. But if you think about it, she is absolutely right.

The only true prohibition of the Path is doing harm, and harm always begins with denying a person’s humanity, whether yours or another’s. The root of a lot of this is xenophobia, which is fear of or aversion to anyone different or not of one’s self-selected tribe. Xenophobia manifests itself in different ways, including racism and stereotyping.

Racism may be the most insidious kind of collective cultural harm, and is proving discouragingly difficult for humanity to evolve beyond. This is partly because frank and honest conversations about racism make white people uncomfortable, so they do not want to talk about it. But it is important that everyone recognize racist ideas and reject them in our quest to become more Enlightened and civilized. We are making progress on that front, but if it seems outrageous to you that “everything is racist now,” just imagine how it must feel for people of color to have lived with that racism every day of their lives. If your response to somebody calling out a racist statement is “grow a thicker skin,” you are probably white, and white people do not get to declare that something is not racist just because they are not offended by it.

Stereotyping, whether on the basis of race or some other trait, is another kind of collective cultural harm that people seem reluctant to let go of. While it may be easier on our Dunbar region, reducing a person to a caricature is also intellectually lazy; it is how we justify avoiding getting to know people as unique individuals. But we are challenged, as benevolent and intelligent minds, to exercise Self-Control and Effort and see other people as humans rather than one-dimensional cardboard cutouts.

It is unfortunately very easy to fall into these mental traps, but with Self-Control, Compassion, and Mindfulness, you can learn to avoid them. The journey of the Path is toward the peace of Enlightenment, and the Enlightened mind sees every human it interacts with as a unique and precious individual and celebrates the vast diversity of human experience. Sometimes wisdom means listening to the stories of other people and learning from them.

Can you use the lessons of the Path to see things from a more Enlightened perspective?

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