A Course in Miracles (Chapter 12, Section I) talks about the way that we respond to, and interpret stimuli, and how it’s our interpretations that “justify” our responses to others. This is inherently hazardous because our - often faulty- interpretations cause us to behave as if our decisions about stimuli were true. And we act accordingly.
We have seen this play out with disastrous consequences over the last week. Someone (a police officer) reacted on the basis of their (faulty) interpretations and we all know how that ended for George Floyd. The same way it ended for numerous others before him.
While this is an extreme and high-profile example, the truth is that we all do this to some degree every day! If this is a new concept for you and you don’t believe me, try taking an honest look at how much meaning you add to things over the next few hours and you will probably be shocked.
The truth is - unless we are at the highest state of conscious awareness - we add our own meaning to EVERYTHING. And we act accordingly, feeling completely justified in our own responses. We make ourselves right, and it’s so automatic, we don’t even realise that we did so, because it feels like The Truth. Such is the way of the ego.
The Course asks “can anyone be justified in responding with anger to a plea for help?” It goes on to answer: “No response can be appropriate except the willingness to give it [help] to him, for this and only this is what he is asking for. Offer him anything else, and you are assuming the right to attack his reality by interpreting it as you see fit.”
I chose not to watch the videos of George Floyd’s death, but understand that he can be heard begging for help, his cries being ignored by the police officer. Again, this is an extreme illustration of something we commonly do - to a lesser degree - all the time. And that might feel as uncomfortable to hear as it is to write, but stay with me.
Pleas for help are not always so obvious. They are sometimes disguised as anger, aggression, moodiness, lethargy, even illness. The Course teaches that everything BUT a loving thought is an appeal - albeit usually unwittingly so - for healing and help. Regardless of the form it takes. But we add our interpretation about what we see, we label people as this or that, we might even mutter a few choice words under our breath, and react to our own interpretation as if it were the truth.
So where does all this leave us, and what can we do about it? How about we start by treating people as if we can help them? How about we start responding to their calls for help - regardless of their form - with love and compassion? The Course says “There is nothing to prevent you from recognising all calls for help as exactly what they are except your own perceived need to attack. It is only this that makes you willing to engage in endless ‘battles’ with reality, in which you deny the reality of the need for healing by making it unreal.”