Thursday, August 21, 2014

Influence and Karma

It seems like everyone wants to influence someone else.  Why?  Well ideally it's because we have found something amazing to share with someone else.  It made us happy and we want to make others happy. 

Not so ideally, we sometimes may influence others in order to indirectly validate our own beliefs.  When someone does what we're doing it gives us a sense of confidence.  We're not alone.  The more people who do what we're doing, the better we feel about ourselves.  And let's be honest, it is a good feeling when we're part of a group or when we are the ones to set a trend.  But if we rely on the validation of those we are trying to influence, anyone who won't do what we're doing or who even dares speak out against it becomes our sudden mortal enemy.  In fact we can't seem to rest easy because that person disagrees with us.  We may even choose to start picking that person apart, searching for some kind of flaw to prove s/he is dead wrong.

This happens in the story of Mordecai and Haman.  Haman is one of the main princes under King Ahasuerus.  King Ahasuerus is the one who chooses Esther to be his queen.  (This story is found in the Bible in the Book of Esther.)  But there is another story that unfolds right around this one between the afore mentioned men. 

Mordecai is Esther's older cousin.  He takes her as his own daughter when her parents die.  After Esther is chosen to be the new queen, Mordecai hangs out by the gate of the palace.  While he is there he hears two men conspiring against the king.  They want to take him out.  Mordecai reports this to Esther.  And Esther reports it to the king.  When an inquisition is made, the two men are found guilty and are both hanged. 

This opens up a spot for Haman to ascend to the main prince role.  He's not a son of the king.  He is an adviser.  So when he walks outside of the palace it's a rule that all the city of Shushan reverence him.  But when Haman passes by Mordecai, he doesn't.  And this is because he's Jewish and has covenanted not to bow down to anyone but his God.  Everyone else is bowing down to Haman.  Is that not enough?  Apparently not because when he notices that Mordecai isn't bowing down he's as mad as all get out. 

So what does he do?  He proceeds to find a way to ELIMINATE HIM.  But not just him.  His ENTIRE RACE.  Prejudice is born.  He knows Mordecai is Jewish so he gets the king to sign a decree that all Jewish people will be destroyed on a certain day.  Just wipe 'em all out and that will take care of the problem.

But before that time comes to pass, Haman still has to walk by Mordecai.  Again everyone else is reverencing him.  Just one person isn't.   He talks to his family and friends about what he should do because it grates on him day in and day out.  They tell him to construct a gallows to hang him on.  What a great idea!  And he commands his servants to do it.  The next morning he goes into the king to get his seal of approval for this plan. 

But the night before the king hadn't been able to sleep.  So he gets up and started reading the palace records.  He stumbles across the incident where Mordecai discovered the conspiracy against the king.  He asks  his servants what has been done to honor this man.  They tell him that nothing has been done.  So he asks who of his princes-advisers are in the court this morning.  They tell him that Haman is out there waiting to talk to him.  Send him in!

And the king says to Haaman, "What shall be done unto the man whom the king desires to honor?"

Haman thinks, well if there's anyone who the king desires to honor, it's me!  So he says, "Get some of the kings royal wardrobe and dress him in it.  Then put him on a horse and lead him through the city crying, 'Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honour!'"

The king then replies to Haman, "Make haste, and take the apparel and the horse, as thou hast said, and do even so to Mordecai the Jew, that sitteth at the king’s gate: let nothing fail of all that thou hast spoken."

There was no getting out of it.  Haman had to do it!  Haha.  So he took "the apparel and the horse, and arrayed Mordecai, and brought him on horseback through the street of the city, and proclaimed before him, Thus shall it be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honour."

And after the whole episode was over Haman "hasted to his house mourning, and having his head covered."  That's when his family and friends predict that he's a goner.  This same day he had been invited to a feast with the king and queen Esther.  He had gloried in being personally singled out like this.  But at this banquet, Esther tells the king about how Haman plans to kill her and all of her people.  The king can't believe it.  He is so mad!  When he also hears that Haman had constructed a gallows to hang the very man that saved the king's life, that's the end of it.  "Then the king said, Hang him thereon."

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There are no good endings to trying to influence others in order to receive validation, glory, confirmation for ourselves.  We have to do it for the real reasons.  A tell-tale sign that we are doing it for the wrong reasons is that we can barely stand it when someone disagrees with us.  It hurts our pride.  We can't let them have their own opinion.  It somehow negates the rightness of our own actions in our minds.  When we influence others for the right reasons, we stand in confidence.  Yes, there will still be those who disagree with us and we may struggle with it.  But the way to obtain validation is to hope for the joy, happiness, and success of others.  That has to be the reason we want to influence them. 

When I'm genuinely unsure of the value of what I'm advocating, I have learned through much error of my own that I need to take some more time studying it, experimenting upon it and then listening to my heart.  I know when something is of value when the Joy I experience is Sustainable.  And that means I can't know it over night.  It takes time.  And most of the time it takes me making mistakes as I experiment upon it.  Yet I've learned my attitude can't be to convince others that it is right.  It needs to be a teachable--I'm trying to figure this out--attitude.

Do unto others as you would have done unto you because it will be done unto you.

 I believe in this with all my heart. It most likely will not be as immediate or even as apparent as Mordecai and Haman's story but it will eventually come to pass.  It's the way the pendulum swings.

The end.