In reading the Righteous Mind, there were several quotes that spoke about the impact of developing a balanced mind, that would contribute to living a peaceful life.
“Empathy is an antidote to righteousness, although it’s very difficult to empathize across a moral divide.”The big divide we are experiencing in the church today is the division of beliefs over the LGBTQ community. What to do with them…are they morally corrupt sinners that need to be shunned? Are they to be accepted but not included? Are they to be invited for the purpose of correcting? Are they to be ignored? When we take the moral divide out, act out empathy and ask ourselves how we would want to be treated in the body of Christ, the decision becomes easier- be accepting and inclusive regardless of how we feel morally about their life choices. It is the moral divide that creates a moral dilemma as we lose empathy to how it feels to be a minority people group.
“…When moral reasoning is not accompanied by moral intuition, the results are ugly.”This is where we see another class of pseudo-humans: psychopaths. They are able to reason but are not able to be morally intuitive as to what is appropriate or acceptable behavior. ” They feel no compassion, guilt, shame, or even embarrassment, which makes it easy for them to lie, and to hurt family, friends, and animals.”In my therapy work, I met a psychopath in my waiting room. He wasn’t even my client but was seeing my colleague for therapy. As I was leaving for the night, I dropped my pen and he crossed the waiting room to retrieve it but did it in such a controlling and uncomfortable manner, it literally sent chills up my spine. He was able to do the morally right thing by picking up a pen for a woman but the moral intuition in which he did it was invasive and downright creepy. I was so uncomfortable leaving my colleague alone with him, I alerted her to the moral intuition I was feeling about him. She validated my apprehension by confirming his psychopath diagnosis and assured me she had taken precautionary measures to keep herself safe. Since therapy requires insight and healthy emotions, psychopaths are usually therapeutic resistant in traditional therapy and require other forms of treatment. They are categorized by “their indifference to others”and their sufferings, which sounds disturbingly like the American church in regards to the plights of slavery not so many years ago.
“Egalitarian relationships…invite role taking, but hierarchical relationships…do not.”When I was a middle-school teacher, one of my greatest pleasures was seeing a child take a leadership role in the class. I thoroughly enjoyed assigning leadership positions to the students and observing how they developed their roles to fit their leadership styles. As a high school youth group leader, I believed in developing leaders at any age and enjoyed relating to kids even more as their equal instead of their teacher. Now that my kids are adults, I am thrilled to relate to them as friends and adults, instead of the corrective parent. The more authoritative I was as a teacher, youth leader, and parent, the more it stifled their leadership roles, humor, and creative expression. As a therapist, I enjoy relating to the youth I work with as equals, without having to parent, teach or correct. Egalitarianism releases us to relate to others versus having to control and manage them. It’s a freeing belief system for me to experience peaceful living.
“Emotions are not dumb… Emotions are a kind of information processing.”Experts report that women are 7 times more likely to sense danger than a man. They can read non-verbals with more accuracy and often rely on their intuition to make decisions. When a woman in therapy senses something is not right in her marriage or home, most of the time it isn’t. One woman upon discovering her husband had an affair, felt concerned like many, whether he had sex with the other woman in their house. Upon questioning him, he repeatedly denied it. At the session, she asked him again, and again he denied it. She continued to feel uneasy so he was encouraged to tell the truth to alleviate her emotional discomfort by providing the truth. He argued that he didn’t want to give her any more pain but was unaware that withholding his truth was actually providing more pain since she felt something was amiss. After some deliberation, he confessed to doing the deed at their home which brought sorrow mixed with relief for his wife as her emotional discomfort was alleviated. Emotions are here to guide us, and God has created them to help us make informed, educated decisions, and to let us know when something is wrong. To have a peaceful life, one needs to have a healthy connection between the head and the heart. Excluding them by continually self-medicating or ignoring them can have disastrous effects on the body and denying their presence can provoke a chaotic emotional existence.
Living with peace and balance is unique to each individual, but we are all similar in one accord: we are all in need of love. This is the greatest gift we can give to each other, ourselves, and to God as we work at being more loving and maybe a little less at being righteous.
Jonathan Haidt, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion, (New York: NY, Pantheon Books, 2012), 58, Kindle.
Ibid., 75-76, Kindle.
Ibid., 72, Kindle.
Ibid., 367, Kindle.
Ibid., 9-10, Kindle.
Ibid., 52-53, Kindle.