O.J. and Us

Technorati Profile>    O.J. Simpson is back in the news. I think we owe him a debt of gratitude for giving us the opportunity to get right what we failed to get right the last time he preoccupied the nation.
    Let me start with an historical occurrence. Rabbi Akiba ben Joseph was a Judean sage at the time of the 1st century. It is said that he and 24,000 of his students all perished in one day from a plague. But in  Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism) it is said that they perished because of how they spoke to one another. How can this be? Can it be that simply being disrespectful to another is cause for death?
    In physics, it has been proved that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. I think this may help us understand how the Kabbalistic perspective may have merit.
    Life is designed to be an endless series of choices…from the most mundane to the most significant. We make the choices we make based upon where our consciousness is at any given moment. Different choices create or manifest different outcomes. If I have the chance to forgive someone or to seek revenge upon them I will experience, quite literally, the consequences of whichever choice I make. The higher and more developed your consciousness, the more challenging and nuanced the choice, the more immediate and proportionate the reaction.
    Now it is said that Rabbi Akiba was one of the most spiritually enlightened beings during a time when a multitude of spiritual beings lived. The students that were drawn to him were likewise enlightened. At their level of consciousness, simply being unkind or insensitive in speech to another was cause for death. While such an outcome may be hard to comprehend, it’s also worth noting that at that time, murder and publicly embarrassing another through speech were the only two behaviors punishable by death. Makes you think, doesn’t it?
    Let’s return to O.J.  He’s just a human being making life choices for which he will ultimately experience the appropriate consequences. It’s a distraction and an abdication of our own personal responsibilities to give any time to what is going on in his life. Our choice is to follow all the media hoopla or not. It’s that simple.
    When we choose to read story after story, watch newscast after newscast, listen to talk show after talk show on what’s happening now with O.J., we are not only guaranteed to get more of the same from the media, we are guaranteeing our own consequence as a result of our own choice. I believe that consequence to be trading off personal and spiritual growth for the diversion of judging another and feeding our ego the illusion that somehow we are better than he is.
    We are not better than O.J. Simpson. We simply have different choices to make than he has. If we choose poorly at the levels we are at, our progress will be not better than his. It’s all a matter of degree.
    Jesus, who lived at the time of Rabbi Akiba, said you can set the banquet table but you cannot make a person eat from it. It is likewise true that the media can daily feed us up a banquet of meaningless stories that have no real impact on our lives and we can eat, or not eat, from that table. The choice is ours.
    This morning, CNN’s homepage (and many others) has O.J.’s photo in the lead box as the lead story. I have a blog to write, a 14-year-old to raise, a marriage to maintain, construction workers at my home, a lot of errands, and a book to finish writing.
    CNN and O.J. don’t even factor in. But I thank them both for giving me this opportunity to choose.

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