Don Paglia | Marriage and Family Counseling. Constellations Workshops


Tip #86:  

“This planet is covered with sordid men who demand that he who spends time fishing shall show returns in fish.”                                                                                  Leonidas Hubbard, Jr.

Merriam-Webster Definition: Sordid marked by baseness or grossness, vile. Also: selfish, self-seeking, seedy, mercenary, or corrupt.

Over the years I’ve chided many a married couple to consider marriage as a school – a school for learning how to be masterful lovers. This love-school can help one to acquire such mastery, if the students hang in there long enough to discover the actual, bona fide, adult version of what real love is all about. The love I speak of is one that brings satisfaction, and even joy, to the one who is offering the love. This joy comes by the giving of love. Some philosophers tell us that life is a school. If so, then intimate relationships and marriages are an elite university.

We’re all on a journey to discover our better self – our True Self. Love is who we truly are. It’s our authentic, true self. Everyone is given a hand they are dealt at birth. It includes our aptitudes, the family that raises us, our time and place in history, as well as, all the situations and circumstances we encounter in life. We take all of this and attempt to eke out a life. We want this life to be a happy one. Learning to love masterfully is the access to our happiness.

When I look back at my own formative/early years, I recognize I was a slow learner. It took me a while to come into my own sense of self; “me” with all my warts and limitations, as well as, hopes and dreams. I was blessed with certain people all along my journey, especially in those earlier years, who believed in me way before I did.

I see now that initially I used markers from others. I compared myself to those seemed to have more on the ball; who appeared to know where they were going. I, on the other hand, felt comparatively lost and confused. I know now it’s never good to compare ourselves to others, or to try to live how others might want us to live. I’m not suggesting I have arrived in any sense but today I see the journey as on-going and never ending.

This is common for adolescents and young adults to do lots if comparing and drawing from others’ outlooks. As we are growing up, when it comes to love, many of us start to also think that by giving some love out we’ll likely get love in return. Not a bad idea. It makes some sense, and it’s a step in the right direction. It is better than a purely childish love of only wanting to be given loved. The problem is that if one gets married to be loved this arrangement is not sustainable. It will only work, if it even does, for a short while.

Only those fortunate to stick around in a committed marriage long enough get opportunities to figure out what relationships really have to offer. As a school of learning we’re provided circumstances for opening up to our greater capacities to love, and to learn how to express our love courageously and unconstrainedly. This requires growing our capacity for giving love without requiring getting love in return. The irony is that most of the time we will get love returned; but it’s not why we do it.

One gets lots of opportunities to learn how to GIVE love and to express love in one’s life. These opportunities occur especially when our partner/spouse/friend/etc. isn’t up to the task, due to their own fumbling or difficulties, or isn’t seemingly able to reciprocate with any love in return.

These moments turn out to be rich blessings. They don’t feel like that when they are happening. But whenever we are able to offer authentic love and offer it powerfully, without constraint or restrictions or concerns, we have evolved toward real mastery. This masterful loving has no limitations. And it is the stuff of our greater self. It is why we are here!

A tit-for-tat form of love – I’LL GIVE IF ONLY IF I GET – however, is bound to collapse any relationship as each partner regresses back to a more infantile and selfish love. Selfishness creates sordid people. Sordid folks are not only out there imposing on people out at lakesides, ponds, and streams who are trying to fish, they abound within our society with their immature, foolish, mean- spirited, and self-serving ways.

Our Nation has suffered immense damage these past four years. Hopefully we are about to return back toward making America Kind Again, which is where our Nation’s greatness resides. We must ask ourselves, “Who do we want to become?” A divided nation where racism and injustices get to accelerate and be blatantly normative? Or, are we ready to make forward progress by repairing our wrongs and address our darker ways? Confucianism asserts that, “Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fall.”

We must return to being a nation of people who can disagree with each other while also respecting each other as fellow human beings, and as fellow Americans. This requires us to become a nation of civility. Civility is a decision. It becomes a habit when it is practiced. Bertrand Russell once said: “Nobody ever gossips about other people’s secret virtues.”

Civility and chivalry are deeply spiritual notions. I realize that some hold chivalry as an archaic notion as it conveys old ideas of male superiority, but originally it spoke to a spiritual and soulful way for assisting others and defending those unable to defend themselves. It also assumes the view point that we are all in this together. A spiritual chivalry comes from those who can operate with a resilience and fortitude.

Getting back to forging a love that does not need any reward beyond what comes from our giving loving, this is exactly what true chivalrous and civil people exhibit by their ennobling actions. Such people already exist within our society. They’re recognizable by their humility, kindness, generosity and other positive qualities. They tend to maintain a realistic optimism in their thinking. They’re usually flexible people. They also have a resilience that offers both their masculine and feminine aspects as needed for the given situation.

By operating out of ennobling ways they raise all of us up to be this way, too. Sparks of spiritual chivalry within one person ignite similar sparks in others. I liken this to what Michael Jordan did for his entire Chicago Bulls team by his own heightened level of play. The rest of the team rose to a higher state of play because of him, as well.

Since the start I mentioned sordid or sordid people only once more. This was intentional. I think it best to focus on what we do want, rather than what we don’t. We want – and need – a civil, resilient, and chivalrous society, if we are to regain our forward momentum and press on toward a more perfect union.

To conclude:

To be bold and even audacious enough to take on rebuilding our Society and our Democracy we need to heed what Jon Meacham, writer, historian, and Pulitzer Prize-winner, says in his: Soul of America. I believe he is telling that it is necessary we must take on our own soulful stance of self-love, as well as, a love for all fellow humankind.

We’ve lived through dark times before. This time is no different. Do not choose markers imposed from outsiders – the sordid ones. There have been and always will be such people who would try to convince us to succumb to the darker self – not to our True Self. We must and can counter with our better angels, to reference Lincoln.

While on our individual journeys toward a capacity of a more mature love, and by utilizing our numerous gifts and talents, we will make America, and the world, better. It’s more than time. Future generations will see who we were, and rightfully so will determine if we lived up to what Martin Luther King, Jr. chided that “we can be judged on the content of our character.”

In this time of the fortieth anniversary of John Lennon’s assassination, let us believe and together sing: “All we need is Love.”