I found the secret to creating Heaven on Earth in the oddest of circumstances: A backyard barbeque.
While setting the table with condiments for our hamburgers, my friend Cherrie said, “Don’t put the mayo out for me; I don’t use it.” “Me, neither,” said Jim. “It’s for Glenn,”
I replied, as I placed it on the table.
Next, I put out the ketchup and barbeque sauce. “Just mustard for me,” said Jim cheerily. “Me, too” said Cherrie. “Mustard? Really?” I said wide-eyed. How interesting. I never think of mustard when I’m constructing a delicious, juicy burger. Hot dogs, yes, hamburgers, no. Hmmm… So, ok, I got out the mustard.
Ketchup for me. No… today I think I’ll use Thousand Island dressing. Mayo and barbeque sauce for Glenn. Mustard for Jim and Cherrie. Okey dokey.
That’s when the BFO hit me. (BFO: “Blinding Flash of the Obvious”) What would life be like if I could view all choices people make with the same interested yet dispassionate way as I did with choices for hamburger toppings?
“I’m going to the XYZ church/mosque/temple this weekend,” someone might say. “How interesting,” I would think. “I don’t know much about that denomination. What’s it like?”
When I hear, “I think the federal government should stop funding education/nuclear weapons/environmental controls/business loans,” I would say, “How interesting. Where else could the money come from, or are you thinking that we don’t need…”
“I’m Pro-Choice/Pro-Life.” “How interesting,” I’d say. “Do you mind sharing your thoughts on that?” (“Get rid of the labels!” I remind myself, thinking of some labels that have been laden with inaccurate and hurtful assumptions about me.)
This condiment-approach to others’ choices opens the door to building relationships beyond labels, beyond stereotypes, beyond pre-conceived notions of what someone is like. It replaces self-created drama, angst, and negative thoughts with an unattached interest in another, opening unlimited pathways to expanding my world.
Please note this distinction: Honoring others’ choices is about being accepting of others, not dispassionate about life. I’m not suggesting that we become disinterested in issues of importance to us. As rEvolutionaries, we are called upon to offer our thoughts, feelings and actions to make our world a better place. Now, with this hamburger helper, I can do it even better by forwarding positive ideas without making anyone else wrong.
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