“There are no un-sacred places;
There are no un-sacred people.
There’s only **sacredness
And our inability to understand it.”
** Not Religious
(Please let me start by clarifying that I’m not talking about religion. When I write about “sacredness,” I’m referring to the intrinsic value of each person. Whether one is a Christian, Buddhist, Atheist or whatever, there is a sense that each being has value.)
The culture around us tries to tell us that we are only valuable when we have accomplished something. We rely on the markers of what is important in the culture around us in order to feel like we matter. Money, power, wealth, title, attractiveness, standing, accolades, praise, all try to determine whether or not we have value.
That belief pushes us to work more hours than is healthy. It tells us we are only as good as our last achievement and that we always need to be striving for more. The rudest part of the whole twisted equation is that it is endless: If you accomplish something stellar, you are now under pressure to always perform at least that well just to keep your reputation.
That’s a lot of work for something that will never be satisfied.
In the absence of those things we thought made us important, we are now unimportant. It’s all or none. (At its worst, this is the root of Narcissism and other personality disorders.) When our sense of worth is tied to what we do or what we have, outside forces have the ability to strip away our importance at any time.
So why settle for importance?
The more candid truth is that, regardless of externally assessed importance, all beings are sacred. The President of the United States is not a more valuable person than the people who scrub the White House toilets. They are all human beings. They all have value. The person with Down’s Syndrome that greets you at Walmart is not less valuable than a member of the uber-rich Walton family that owns the joint. They are all human beings. They all have value.
Many different systems of understanding frame this idea in similar ways. Some say we are each a spark or a reflection of the Divine. Some say that we are made in the image of God and bear God’s imprint on our being. Others say that “the Divine” is the collection of all of the souls that exist. Secular Humanists express that each human being matters, regardless of their function or status in society. These ideologies all point in the same direction – That our value and worth is not at all determined by external, changing assessments. We have value; we are sacred, by nature.
A Tale of Two Cousins
I have a cousin who is well accomplished according to the markers that our society values. He contributes very helpful things to the world around him. I have another cousin who has never held down a job and is dependent on the government for her medical care and continued subsistence. She has profound developmental disabilities. Is my one cousin more valuable, more sacred than the other? Not in the least.
If I had not shared with you that my one cousin has developmental disabilities, would you have assessed her worth differently? Would you have assigned shame to her for whatever life story you made up in your mind to explain why she is dependent on others?
Sometimes we get so consumed with assessing importance, that we forget we are all sacred.
For many years now I have asserted that, “When we don’t know who we are, we act like someone else.” On any given day, we human folk are likely to forget that we are sacred. (Some of us have never really known it to begin with.) As such, we can act in some awful ways. We aren’t in touch with our sacred state at that moment. It’s really easy to do, isn’t it?
I have a challenge for you. Pick a day. As you move through the day, consciously tell yourself that every single person you encounter is sacred. The annoyed cashier who never makes eye contact with you? Sacred. The homeless man at the stop light begging for money? Sacred. The boss at work that just interrupted and ignored you in the meeting? Sacred. The kitchen staff behind the restaurant taking a smoke break? Sacred. The driver weaving in and out of traffic 20 or more miles an hour over the speed limit? Sacred. The Karen in the store treating everyone around her as if they are her personal servants? Sacred. Even though a whole lot of other descriptors popped up in your mind first, that’s a sacred being right there.
When we don’t know who we are… we act like someone else. You are sacred. We are all sacred. Why settle for being merely important?
This is not a pass for bad behavior. In fact, ironically, it’s even more reason to address behavior that declines to treat all beings as sacred. I’m going to cover this in more detail in next week’s blog. Stay tuned!
Are you struggling to find the sacredness in yourself and others? Contact Tiffany today. Let’s talk.