Tips for Fishing and Living #24

Tip # 24:

“Fishing is the sport of drowning worms.”

                                                            Author Unknown

We can easily forget how we got to whatever level of success we may have achieved in our lives. We deceive ourselves into thinking we did it entirely on our own. This is a failure to recognize all the various help and assistance we actually have been given along the way. Its faulty thinking; it’s deceptive – do I dare say, and egotistical, as well?

For starters, each of us received LIFE from our parents. This one thing is awesome. They passed life on to us having received life from their parents, and so on. This gift of life that gets passed on to us is precious. Even if you had parents that did nothing more than this one thing – gave you your LIFE. This is huge! As the TV commercial says, “It’s Priceless.”

Some people do not know one or both of their parents, or had separate biological parents and nurturing parents. There are the ones who gave you life, and the one(s) that nurtured you, possibly raising you from infancy through childhood. These may be different people. Some had significant grandparents, adoptive parents, single- parents, or foster parents. For some it was older siblings, or guardians. They all count.

We also learned and grew from significant people that were important teachers along the way: classroom teachers, coaches, scout leaders, sitters, older siblings, good neighbors, favorite aunt or uncle, etc. There were good ones and bad ones who helped us. Even those who did certain things poorly were instructing and teaching us. They may have taught us what not to do. The point is that the self-made man or woman is a myth. It is an illusion. To claim we made it all on our own is, at best, foolish. At worst, it’s arrogant. No matter what the circumstances are that got you here, I contend, you ought to be elated and joyous. You are HERE. The key is GRATITUDE.

We are living in a time where people are stepping forward to claim they’ve been victims. Some of this is long overdue, as well as, quite legitimate and healthy. It is the beginning of possible healing and of stopping these systemic patterns that have existed far too long.

While this is all true, we would also do well to see that each of us are, at times both a victim and a perpetrator. Fishing requires us to kill the worm. When we eat a cheeseburger, or an apple, we are taking life. Maybe this seems extreme. But by not recognizing this reality we lack a certain respect for all life.

People pray before meals to acknowledge the gift of life and for the nurturance about to be received, as well as, to give gratitude for those who prepared it. They are also acknowledging their Creator who ultimately provides us with life and with the on-going sustenance that supports our lives.

I am not trying to down play the terrible abuse too often ignored or tolerated. I’m simply trying to also help us see our own systemic entanglement that promotes abuse and perpetrating. Basically anytime we start to treat others as less than us we are becoming a perpetrator.

As an example, let’s say we attempt to go “help” someone. Perhaps offer some advice or provide a warning regarding this person’s behavior. And they decline our offer.  Often, we get annoyed, or maybe become “testy.” After all we were offering help and here they are blowing us off. Now we judge them as ungrateful, or wrong, or stupid, or any number of judgments because they declined our help.  

At this point I am now seeing myself as a person, while I am seeing this other person as an object. This is a self-deception. It is also a self-betrayal. What I’ve managed to do is make myself superior while making this other inferior.

We deceive ourselves whenever we see other people’s needs as less important than our own, so we treat them like mere objects. Self-deception is seeing other people’s faults and our virtues as inflated.

This self-betrayal has the effect of putting ourselves In-A-Box. The definition of being in a box includes that when we are in a box we are unable to see that we are in one. The only Red Flag is that we are feeling upset. It’s the only clue we have available to us. Initially doing something different than what we are presently doing will appear as counter-intuitive. We need to surrender our current “justified thoughts and behaviors.” We are trapped in a box and we are fueled with justifications to go about continual judging and criticizing – in other words we are acting as a perpetrator does.

We start telling ourselves that we are correct to write this other person off, and to not do anything more with them.

We’ll reason:

‘I’m important, hardworking, a victim, a good person.’

‘Why should I be nice to him? What has she ever done for me?’ 

‘She’s Wrong; I’m Right.’

‘He is lazy; inconsiderate; insensitive; or unappreciative.’

How do we get Out of the Box?

First of all, stop thinking only about yourself.

Instead focus on the other person for a bit.

See this other as also a person.

Search for their humanity, even if it appears buried.

Seeing all people as human beings. No one is better, or worse. Underneath any of the different ways we think and act, we are, nevertheless the same.

And gratitude is the pathway. This is the vital ingredient for living both humbly and richly. It allows us to get past our judging, comparing, and whatever superiority we are holding that will only disconnect us from each other. Gratitude gets us out of our egos.

St. Ignatius of Loyola said that “Gratitude is the antidote for despair and depression.” Not only that, it is also the access toward a fulfilling life. It addresses the deeply seated hunger and yearning we each have for connection. We humans are social animals. Gratitude helps us know we are not alone. This is, indeed, quite wonderful.

In the Gospel Story of Jesus meeting the discipline for the first time on the beach, he said to them that if they followed him he would make them “fishers of people.” What the apostles did not realize, nor do we, is that he meant for them to become the bait.