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Henry Burt Stevens

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Brothers and Sisters
By Henry Burt Stevens   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Friday, September 02, 2005
Posted: Thursday, February 03, 2005

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A short retelling of an conversation that took place at a Study Circle on race relations. Covers unconditional love and unconditional forgiveness.

Study Circles// about The Brothers and the SistersStudy Circles are organized discussion groups that focus on three areas-Race Relations, Neighborhood Development and Education. I have been participating in Racial Relations in the second round of five sessions and an insight became apparent to me and I would like to share it with you.At our first meeting Nancy Anderson, a long time civil rights activist, said, “Racial prejudice, like other prejudices, is in the mind.”The second meeting brought up a question about reality. When my turn came to speak I said, “Reality exists even if we do not know about it.” A firestorm of words quickly ensued when everyone started talking at once disagreeing with me. The facilitator, James Abraham, when he could restore order said, “Henry, you have on a brown shirt tonight. However, if we all agree your shirt is green, it is green.” Being soundly defeated I maintained my silence and thought carefully about what had been said.At the end of the third meeting we were called on in turn to speak on how we could use the institutions in our communities to make progress on race relations. When my turn came, I asked to switch to the alternative question, “When you listened to others discuss what new insights and ideas did you gain?”This is what I said, “I don’t know much about institutions because I only know of one person I have control over, myself. At our first meeting Nancy said prejudice is in the mind. At the second meeting everyone said my brown shirt was green. I agree, but the important thing is if each one of you in this room thinks I am your brother. If you all agree I am your brother than we are all OK. If I am not your brother than I am an object, subject treatment as an object. If I am the enemy then I’d better scurry around and try to get a pass out of here, or find an advocate. There is more to this, but that is what I’ll say for now.”The room was quiet for a few seconds and then Bill said, “I’d like hear what else Henry would have to say. The facilitator said, “Go ahead.”“The balance is about love, not any kind of love, but rather unconditional love. This simply means to hold others as dearly as one holds oneself. I believe each of you in this room is my brother and my sister. There is nothing you can do to me to change my mind, because I love you unconditionally. It is not dependant on what you do to me. But, of course, I would hope you love me unconditionally too.”The room went quiet momentarily. There were various kind words of agreement, and thank you for saying what you did. At our fourth session the next week some kinds were mentioned again, and again at our fifth and final session.I am very thankful to have said something that was of help. Next time a chance comes up to talk about this idea maybe I will feel confident enough to share some words about unconditional forgiveness.Henry StevensWritten 5/18/01AddendumHenry’s few Words about unconditional forgiveness.Holding other people with thoughts of unconditional love involves a paradox. How is it possible to love someone who does bad things? The answer is that I still love the person unconditionally who does bad things because they are also human beings, just as my self. I do not love the bad things when they do them, just the person. The same applies when people do bad things to me as a person; I love them unconditionally, even though they cause me pain. To do otherwise is to love them conditionally, when I really want to love them unconditionally. How could I tell any of my children that I will love you only if you never do bad things to yourself, others or to me? How could I say this to my wife, my brothers and my sisters?If other people do bad things, and I am to continue to love them unconditionally, then the only thing I can do is to forgive them unconditionally. Can I say to my children, my wife, my brothers and my sisters, “I love you unconditionally, but I can never forgive you?”I don’t think so. How am I going to carry around a piece of paper in my pocket with a list of things I can’t forgive them for? I don’t think it could work. I would then have to love them conditionally and I would be back where I started many years ago, carrying my burden of conditional love and conditional forgiveness. I laid both those burdens down and I don’t expect to ever pick them up again because I do not want to have these burdens with me on my last day.Henry Stevens5/23/01Benefits of Unconditional Love and ForgivenessThe benefits of unconditional love and forgiveness arise from not having to judge any of my brothers and sisters. I do not believe it is my place to judge other people because I am not walking in their moccasins, only one pair of feet will fit in one pair of moccasins.Because I am not required to judge I am free to accept people as they are. Like me, they are probably doing what the want to do, in a manner of their own choosing. Like me, if they were unhappy with their life they would take steps at once to make changes. It is not my place to suggest what steps they should take. I question the idea of my being able to modifying someone else’s behavior. The only behavior I can modify is my own. There may be some merit to the idea being able to influence others by example.Therefore, I seek only to correct my faults and meet my responsibilities to my family.Being free from judging others greatly increases my happiness, while reducing my pain. I think of it as taking the garbage out each evening and placing in the trash barrel. I can then take my evening walk and prepare for a good night sleep.Each of us has our story to tell and I enjoy hearing other’s stories. Because I am able to listen carefully to their story without a constant chatter of my own judgmental opinions in the background their story comes through clearly. Also, it is true that the greatest gift one can give another person is to listen carefully to their story. Everyone has a story.Being nonjudgmental increases my personal freedom. My friend Brian says, “Here comes Happy Hank” whenever I see him. I like that. Brian knows I try to wear the world like a loose garment. By contrast, we all know people who are so tied up with prejudice, likes and dislikes, and strongly held opinions that we realize being with them is going to be tiring.Henry Stevens5/26/01Would you consider trying some of these ideas?Would any of these ideas; unconditional love, unconditional forgiveness, or being nonjudgmental, hold some interest for you? If so they are very easy try. These are strictly personal matters. You do not have to ask anyone’s permission, no license is required, and they are non taxable. Just remember, you are only trying them. Later, you can decide if you want to adopt them as basic ideas of your own.An easy way to start is to try just one idea for a few hours, say from after breakfast till noontime. Carry the idea consciously. Again some other day pick one of the ideas and try it for a few hours. During the trial periods measure your feelings with the new idea against something that is happening at the time.In Summary, I feel that it is important for me to practice unconditional love, unconditional forgiveness and non judgmental tolerance because they give me peace of mind and a sense of personal freedom. I also feel it is time for me to talk with others about these ideas.Thank you very much for the chance to be with you today.In closing I would like to leave you with just one question,“Am I your brother?”5/26/01 ...................................... 

After notes..................

Over 500 Hits

Today two of my postings will break through 500 hits each.  One is a poem, "My wish."  The other is an article, "Brothers and Sisters."  I am very happy about this for two reasons. First, because of all the material I have up on these have been reader selected as being the most important.  Secondly, the ideas expressed by each of these pieces are an expression of my way of doing things-my ideas of what I should be doing-my ideas of how I do my business and how I live my life.  In both pieces I speak my mind openly and sincerely.  Thank you readers of s/henry

Reader Reviews for "Brothers and Sisters"

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Reviewed by Hiren Shah 9/26/2005
From what I have read, real, genuine love in always unconditional. If conditions creep in, it cannot be love. At the same time correct steps should be taken to convey misgivings to the other people in the right manner so that mistakes are not repeated and relationships improve. Profound article, Henri
Reviewed by rita pilbrow carlsson 8/10/2005
Gosh,I have just read some members work,and yours was one, I really enjoyed reading.
Justw anted to say I could relate and felt you have many interesting things to say.
I have just come back from a chaotic London to sweden and it is bed time here, very late but your work gave me both calm and made my brain cells work overtime..
I enjoy your writings.
WARM wishes
Rita across the cold Atlantic.
Reviewed by m j hollingshead 2/6/2005
enjoyed the read

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