Transcend ‘It’ to end ‘It’

Ben Nelms.
Ben Nelms.

We have to transcend “It” to end “It.”

“We can recognize our prejudices and illusions only when, from a broader psychological knowledge of ourselves and others, we are prepared to doubt the absolute rightness of our assumptions and compare them carefully and conscientiously with the objective facts.” – Carl Jung, “The Undiscovered Self”

Do you have more negative judgments about people just because they are black or white or brown? Well, isn’t that prejudicial?

Whatever happened to the content of the character rather than the color of the skin? Quoting it and living it are two very different things.

Do you think less of people who can’t afford an expensive home, or of those who can? Isn’t that prejudicial?

Do you vote for someone just because he’s male or because she’s female; or because she’s white or because he’s black or because she’s brown? Isn’t that prejudicial, too?

And the list goes on… forever, and can potentially lead to violence and terror.

Without sometimes realizing it, we can all fall into a life full of routines, including cognitive routines, that lead to failed judgments based on inner prejudices and beliefs that serve only to divide people.

As in politics and life, division is one of the greatest tools of oppression and control, by the few who preach it and the masses who, like sheep, follow what they are told to believe, without requiring objective evidence to support those beliefs.

It’s easy for adults to bash kids for being naive, but it’s adults, too, who are infinitely malleable. And your “leaders” know it.

“It” is the judgmental, egotistical side of us, the part of all of us that surfaces when we allow negative inner prejudices and beliefs to have sway in our thoughts, words and deeds. And being human, we have all been guilty at some point.

Yet the truth is, we all have the ability to transcend It. If we choose not to, then we are guilty as charged in the court of conscience. What’s required is the willingness to transcend It to be free of all charges and free of the constraints of anger, fear or pride that only bind us with invisible chains, to a life immersed in the desperate cognitive routines that hold us back, and make us less than the person we could be – the person who is free, not bound.

Make no mistake, what’s happening inside the conscious awareness of all of us — the willingness to think, speak and act with kindness and respect toward others as opposed to the proclivity in any of us to act selfishly and approach some (or even ourselves) with negative judgments – amounts to a war being fought inside each of us.

A question posed in the Old Testament asked, “Why do the heathen rage?” The answer is simple – it’s our nature. And it’s that very nature – one easily swayed into negative judgment, word and action – with which kindness and respect (let’s call it agape or love) fights endless battles throughout a lifetime.

“It” is the dark side of any of us, where negative judgmental thoughts, potentially taking the form of words and actions, can assume the role as the ruler of our lives. Left unchecked, It’s thoughts turn into opinions, then beliefs, where subjective condemnation becomes the default position, whether in boardrooms or bedrooms, street corners or lecture halls.

“It” is actually quite selfish, and hides with stealth in the shadows of word and deed, being opposed to being exposed under the full light of objective scrutiny. Thing is, agape/love doesn’t mind the full light of objective scrutiny. The reason is simple — love has nothing to hide.

So, one would think winning the war between the selfishness and pride of It and the selflessness of agape/love would be a cake walk. Maybe it would if the soldier in the war was armed for battle.

As for that armament, what ever happened to forgiveness? What ever happened to redemption? What ever happened to not judging, since apparently the first few verses of Matthew 7 have been selectively ripped out of the Bible by some Christians and non-Christians alike? And what in the world ever happened to I Corinthians 13? Are these things only appropriate concerns when we’re in church? If so, isn’t that screwed up?

The trouble with the war It wages is that it spills out of us, onto our family and friends and those we meet. The way to win the war is to transcend It and Its thoughts, and subsequent attitudes and beliefs, by allowing agape/love to play a continuously-growing role in our thought process.

For better or worse, our thoughts, words and deeds define our lives. Which side of the war will hold predominance in our lives is up to each of us.

Or as Jung also said – “Where love stops, power begins, and violence, and terror.”

And it was John Dryden, who in 1678 said, “Errors like straws upon the surface flow. He who would have pearls must dive below.” Straw isn’t the only thing that floats on the surface of the water.

Raw, negatively-fueled, subjective judgmental emotions float like so much … straw … on the surface of our lives. Left unchecked, those same emotions can come to define our lives. The result can lead inescapably to (including on the larger societal level) disaster and devolution. Human history is replete with examples.

On occasion, we have all been guilty in the court of conscience, as have all those who have gone before us. This is part of our humanity. The question is, do we stay that way? Like it or not, the legacy we live is the legacy we leave.

Content to exist in the shadows of our lives, It is selfish. Content to exist in the full light of our lives, agape/love is selfless.

This is the war that rages. And the choice we make between the two is up to us. Or perhaps, there is no choice needed.

Freedom from the invisible chains of It becomes a reality the more willing we become to have agape/love have sway over It.

We have to transcend It to end It.


  1. Well said and true. If only we could be happy with MLK’s longing for the day we would judge each other by the comment of our character. Not today. The purveyors of division have sold the idea that whiteie must be judged by the sum of any evil deeds done by his ancestors; the rich must be judged by the obvious crimes of accumulating what others want; the straight must be judged by their failure to embrace all the alternates available; the gun owner must be judged by every evil finger that has pulled a trigger to take another’s life and on it goes. This is a losing proposition. We must look into each other’s eyes and lives and see what is there, see them for who they are.