“Billy don’t be a hero”.
I am dating myself with that line from the 1974 Song by Paper Lace about a young man going off to war. Of course I was 5 when it came out but as the child of young parents, that had a lot of the popular music of that time playing in the background, I still have a lot of those lyrics floating around in my programming.
Aspiring to be “a hero” in life is a bit like playing God and often a fatal or at best a very damaging, presumptive move. Just ending up one is different than the ambition to be one. The latter preferable to the former because the first is ego based and the second not.
Yesterday while listening to the controversial but always profound Roy Masters, he said something that got my attention. An 88 year old now he kind of mixed up his words with a bit of English accented stammer but I put his thought together in this slightly paraphrased quote:
“You can’t fix people, but you don’t have to contribute to their faulty programming. Act if you must, but don’t react.”
When we react we take action or speak in response to the emotions we feel as a result of the actions of another person. Conversely, when we act we make objective decisions based on facts, not emotions.
Don’t play the hero. People can’t be fixed by other people. Can God or YHWH use people to help other people? I think so. However, it won’t happen if:
1.) They do not see an issue with their actions and don’t feel they need to change their behaviors.
2.) We react emotionally to their behaviors.
3.) It simply isn’t the plan, ever or at this time, for their lives to get better for reasons we don’t understand. (This one is a hard one to accept, but it is a reality that is impossible to deny sometimes)
I guess the only factor that we can control is the second. It is not up to us to repair people. If we think so, we have an ego problem. I did and I thought I was being “a hero.” When we “play” the hero, we will typically react to a person’s bad behavior, which will happen when we try to play God (because we are not Him). Being reactive we only contribute to or support their faulty programming. We don’t help it. We can actually make it worse because they are already in a perpetual reactive state and we join them in a proverbial never ending war of trading resentment back and forth, no matter how justified we might feel about our resentment. (Resentment is never justifiable)
I have made a lot of mistakes in my life but one thing I do not want to do, no matter how evil another person’s intentions are, is contribute to “tripping them up” or provoking them to sin more. I won’t be able to justify that one no matter how hard I try.
So today I pray not to be led in to temptation so that I won’t contribute to the faulty programming that is already at play.
Shabbat is on it’s way. I need a rest. It’s been a long week.
P.S. Enjoy a cool tune 🙂