Don Paglia | Marriage and Family Counseling. Constellations Workshops


Tip # 92:

“You must lose a fly to catch a trout.” 

George Herbert

There is a great paradox here: It’s worth sacrificing a little or even a lot in order to gain more. We see the fly as the bait, and as what the angler sacrifices in order to catch the fish. We can apply this in real life with our need to expend effort that might even be risky or costly in the service of obtaining something greater. So the question is: do we really believe it is worth sacrificing in order to gain a great deal more?

When Jesus spoke to Peter and told him to “come follow me” and that he, Jesus, would make Peter a fisher of people, Peter did not yet know he was to become the bait in order to do this. There are consequences in whatever we do or don’t do. Sometimes we need to trust that our persistence will overcome any and all obstacles. And we must be steadfast by believing we have a lot more say and power in the matter of our lives.

We need to be alert when we attempt to enroll others into our vision, or we’ll possibly become deflated or discouraged by naysayers or critical people. Nevertheless, we ultimately need to carry on with our persistent efforts if we are to gain the desired result.

We tend, as a people, to want symptom relief or a quick fix without doing the required work. As an illustration of this we sometimes look to medications to solve many of our problems. Sometimes medications are necessary and quite useful, but sometimes we jump to them for symptom relief rather than make appropriate “lifestyle” changes that would eliminate these symptoms.

Let’s take indigestion as one small example. Indigestion typically comes from either eating too much or eating things that play havoc with our body’s digestive system. How about refraining from eating those things? Is that too crazy a thought? There’s a medication ad on TV that boasts how we can eat anything and everything that is so delicious but then makes us feel terrible if we only then to take this little pill afterwards!

If I drank too much coffee or drank it late at night and cannot sleep that night it isn’t rocket science. Sure, we’re all guilty of occasionally doing some similar dumb stuff, but we know it and maybe we even eventually learn from our foolishness. But to keep doing the same things and expecting a different result is the sure sign of craziness. But, as you know, there’s a pill for that too.

If ever we were unsure, we now know it. Our democracy is fragile and cannot exist if we aren’t participating in it. It requires all of us to take care of it, much like we need to take care of our bodies. We need to have some skin in the game. There are no quick fixes here, either. After the recent assault on our Capital we have heard commentators state that “this is not who we are.” I, for one, take exception to this. It is, sadly, a very real part of who we are, and who we have been. By not owning our denial and our sometimes passivity, we have cooperated and allowed a malignancy to continue and to become more emboldened.

Systemic racism has had a long history within our country. The recent assault on the Capital, as well as, other civil violence have come about, largely, by the many repeated lies and distortions leading up to it and escalated with the presidential election results. These continuous lies and distortions rest upon, and are embedded within, racism, and therefore a belief that only certain people have a right to be here, and not others. It is time we fully acknowledge this; and then begin the consistent work to rout out such distortions.

These sentiments that flow from racism are much like a cancer. True democracy is a threat to racism and any supremacy. We have a distinct part of our population that wants to kill off another part of our population, while another part of the population has, for the most part, remained silent and/or in denial.

I am speaking to this largest one-third of America – the one most of us privileged whites are a part of, and who have for too long clung to denial and/or silence. We used to be called the Silent Majority. As the old cartoon character, Pogo, once said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

The FBI now tells us the greatest threat to America is not foreign terrorism; it is domestic terrorism. Domestic terrorism is the unlawful use, or threatened use, of violence by a group or individual based and operating entirely within the United States (or its territories) without foreign direction committed against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.

Extremist groups are on the far right and on the far left have always existed. Militant hate groups, white supremacy groups and other volatile people have had a four year green light by those that intentionally incited them for power and profit.   

Our US Capital these last two weeks has looked like a Military War Zone. I pray we have, as a nation, finally reached a tipping point. America has hopefully ended this dangerous experiment with the Trump presidency, and now we say “enough!” The national election seems to indicate the majority of America is no longer able or willing to remain silent or in denial.  

The pandemic has facilitated an unveiling – an awakening to what has been dysfunctional. It has required us to slow down, and to reflect in a soulful way. The terrible costs and unspeakable toll this dreadful pandemic has caused, may also have provided us a silver lining. It has possibly awakened us to a moment where we are able to recognize ourselves in what Martin Luther King, Jr. was telling us when he said:

“Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.”

At another time MLK, Jr. offered his conviction about passivity:

“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”

Dr. King was also human, as well as, prophetic. As a human being he became drained and at times felt discouraged, and so he offered us this reflection:

“I don’t mind telling you this morning that sometimes I feel discouraged. I felt discouraged in Chicago. As I move through Mississippi and Georgia and Alabama, I feel discouraged. Living every day under the threat of death, I feel discouraged sometimes. Living every day under extensive criticisms, even from Negroes, I feel discouraged sometimes. Yes, sometimes I feel discouraged and feel my work is in vain. But then the Holy Spirit revives my soul again.”

Joe Biden is challenging us to find hope in the midst of our distress, discouragement and real sorrow. He also reminds us of who we are when we unite and when we together forge a government that works for everyone.

How did we get here? I believe we allowed too many injustices to go unaddressed for too long, causing too many to feel they do not count. There is much evidence as we see the haves and have nots growing ever further apart. There are many in our American family that need to be brought back into the national conversation. To begin to do so we first must believe that they do count and they do have a contribution to make.

The easiest people in the world to manipulate are those who are focused on a single issue. All it takes is to be forcefully against whatever they’re against and you can lead them around like a tame calf on a rope. The antidote for this malignancy is to love our neighbor as neighbor. It’s time to listen to the alienated, disenfranchised, and those who don’t think they matter.

We are all children born of the same father. Those who have the same father are brothers and sisters. White Supremacy groups, neo-Nazis, and other extremists operate from a scarcity model – one that judges some people as different and therefore having no right to exist or be here. If any group might have a right to think this way it is Native Americans, and yet they are more evolved and not prone to hold onto hate or vengeance. 

The U.S. just executed a women prisoner – one with a severe depravity from a childhood filled with horrific deficiency and cruelty. This doesn’t justify her crimes but could have easily been cause for a commuted execution. But this murderous action done during the last two weeks of presidential power is beyond the pale.

And it is but one more outrageous hypocrisy endured these last four years. Our silence should have instead been a loud, furious outrage. She was the 11th person on federal death row executed since the U.S. government resumed capital punishment last year under President Donald Trump administration. Such hypocrisy of a so-called pro-life president.

Then there are the 628 children still not reunited with their parents after being separated from them at our US – Mexico border. This was done to “send a message”, and what a message it has sent! “America is beyond cruel and vile!” Outrageous. The cost of our silence and our denial is that our national soul has become a little bit more deadened.

How we hold the universe really matters. We either see the universe as primarily material and with no discernable purpose. If so, the inevitable outcomes are a nation that operates out of scarcity, competition, greed, and violence. With such a position we pit one group over another; one side needing to win by another side having to lose; one side welcoming only those like them.

Joe Biden has reminded us of not some newer perspective. Rather he calls us as Americans to our original core belief system. It is a transformative perspective that sees the universe has primarily consciousness, and where each and every human being is seen as a body, mind, and spirit. It is in this system where we are able to find our life’s purpose in meaningful ways within a benevolent universe.

This week we also celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr., so let’s return to his very moving remarks about his own discouragements, and how he turned to God at such moments. He gave a speech shortly before he was assassinated and said it this way:

“In the midst of outer dangers I have felt an inner calm and have known resources of strength that only God could give. In many instances I have felt the power of God transforming the fatigue of despair into buoyancy of hope.”

This past Wednesday at the inauguration a young 24 year old poet, Amanda Gorman, offered her prophetic voice and powerful words to both challenge and some comfort us in her poem:

(Here are a few portions of this magnificent poem and I encourage you to read it in it’s entirely – and do so often.)

The Hill we Climb

“When day comes we ask ourselves,

where can we find light in this never-ending shade?

The loss we carry,

a sea we must wade

We’ve braved the belly of the beast

We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace

And the norms and notions

of what just is

Isn’t always just-ice

And yet the dawn is ours

before we knew it

Somehow we do it

Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed

a nation that isn’t broken

but simply unfinished…

Amanda Gorman goes on and then continues:

When day comes we step out of the shade,

aflame and unafraid

The new dawn blooms as we free it

For there is always light,

if only we’re brave enough to see it

If only we’re brave enough to be it.”

It is easy to be against something. Let us be brave enough to step forward, brave enough to reflect upon what these powerful words mean to us, and brave enough to get clarity about what we are and what we stand for, instead of who or what we are against.

I propose we choose to be brave enough to be intolerant of anything less than a democracy that works for everyone and serves all of its people.

If we do this, then we can join in singing along with John Legend that indeed, “It’s a new dawn; it’s a new day; it’s a new life!”