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The natural human reaction is to first observe and then to judge. Seldom do we take the time and exhibit the patience to examine closely before separating the wheat from the weeds.
We miss so much by assuming this lazy intellectual posture. When you peel back the layers of prejudice and supposition, many times you find understanding hidden behind so many years of human conditioning. If you take the time to examine and learn, you will learn new social patterns and truly begin to develop empathy for people who are not evil or truly threatening, they are simply different.
I offer you a true life example of this construct taken from my life as a twelve year old, living in a poor and angry world. We were just eight boys, part of a street crew…not a gang. I was Little Bobo, you should have seen Big Bobo! We were playful and mischievous, but not dangerous We seldom left our neighborhood and never did anything that could put us in real trouble with the law. Sure, Eddie, the Irish cop who walked the beat on Atwells kept a close eye on us , but when he told us to “hit the bricks” we scattered.
We also judged and acted without forethought, so when we heard that there was going to be a new field opened in an adjacent suburb (where the rich kids lived) , we were instantly angered. We played on an old dirt sandlot. Many times the games deteriorated into turf wars, but it was just fists, maybe you lost a tooth or got a shiner…nothing scary. We decided that we would somehow interrupt the opening day ceremonies at this new beautiful field.
So one of our crew, Raymond had an older brother named Pat. he had this great 51 Chevy coup. Here was the plan….seven of us would pile in the Chevy with Pat, my place was in the trunk. We figured i was the biggest and could take the best shot and it seemed logical to me. We took the license plates off the Chevy first so no one could trace it.
We would park just around the corner out of site. We would wait until everyone was gathered for the dedication. The lot was filled with big station wagons, the vehicle of choice for affluent moms who wore those ugly wrap around blue jean skirts and pulled their blonde hair straight back into these strange leather berets. When the Mayor began to walk across to the field, I walked into the crosswalk behind him. Pat peeled out with the Chevy making a terrible racket, everyone looked up at once as Pat, who planned to hit me just lightly, got a little too hyped and knocked me ten feet from the car. They jumped out, popped the trunk and threw me in speeding off in a smokey burnout! That brought the proceedings to an immediate halt.
I could hear the guys laughing in the car as I checked to make sure I still had all my body parts. It was in the local papers and on the news. The rich kids had to postpone their game, it was simply too disturbing for them to continue..
So 99.9% of people who witnessed this and most of you reading this would judge that we were destructive, violent bums. Strangely, I was the only one who got hurt. This was our form of protest, our way of expressing the frustration of living in poverty so close to kids with much more than they needed. No one seeing this strange protest even tried to understand how it feels to have so little. They judged and on the spot decided that we were bad kids.
Next time you see something that confuses or frightens you, step back, stay safe but look for the truth. Your world will expand, you will become peaceful and introspective. perhaps even motivated to reach out, from a safe distance at first and improve the human condition.
Peace & Love,

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About bob sendling

I began my study of meditation and mindfulness seven years ago after a disabling accident. My recovery was being hindered by the animosity I held deeply. I was obsessed by the idea of getting even with those who put me in harm's way, changing the future course of my life dramatically. I first studied privately with a skilled therapist who was a Zen Master. He exposed me to the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh. I still follow those principals in my daily life. I have also studied at A Zen Temple in a group setting and faithfully continue my practice and study. I now teach meditation and mindfulness and maintain this website dedicated to spreading peace and love to a mindful community of spiritual people.

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