Being Just In An Unjust World

Have you ever been in a situation when people around you, speak poorly of another? Or witness disturbing behavior,  unfairness or clear misunderstanding? Do you say something? Or do you choose to crawl into your shell, allowing it to fester more deeply? It is often stated that when we say nothing, we are just as guilty of saying something badly about another person…or wishing someone harm.

We return now to Ani Po…

Note: Ani Po is Hebrew for I Am Here. When we set out confidently, we declare I Am Here, owning whatever our situation or path. Ani Po represents all the Warriors who dare to stand firmly in what is just.

Ani Po was discussing her self-reflection with a friend, about how she should learn to be more passive, allowing others to remain in their speech refraining from conflict. Ani Po knows that when something is wrong, something is wrong. She could choose to walk away, stay and listen to the negative speech or actions of another, or she can speak what is just. This is not easy for Ani Po.

The conversation began when Ani Po expresses her feelings of hurt to her friend.

“Mamani…I have a difficlut time being around your friends when they speak poorly about another person and cannot sit quietly when they wish bad things upon another person.”

Mamani speaks: Why don’t you just not say anything at all? Why do you have to correct them, killing the mood of the party?

Ani Po: Because it is not right. (this is subjective, as it is clearly Ani Po’s perception of something being right or wrong). Speaking poorly about another human being, wishing them harm is one of the greatest sins, as it attacks their very spirit. We are not here to squelch another, but to build them up, creating a more heavenly place.

Mamani: Can you leave the room? Or just not be around them anymore?

Ani Po: I could do these things, but I enjoy your company and often they are around. I know that I must learn to handle their words. I may have to ask that my presence is not there, when they are around as I will not sit quietly when they are being unjust.

Mamani: I don’t understand. Why do you have to always make things right?

Ani Po: I don’t, but we live in a world where there is enough hate and hate only encourages more hate.

That night, Ani Po had a dream about her childhood. She is back in a private school, where Nuns often taught class.

Often our dreams will mirror our daytime activities, parelling with the lesson of the day, allowing us to see the lesson more clearly. Those who pay attention to their dreams, can often learn right from wrong by day. In this case, Ani Po was able to recall the lesson of how she was treated unfairly by another person’s harsh words towards another, but her dreams painted a parelleled scenario which gave her the right answer.

Ani Po was taking a test one day, in which the students were given specific instructions: take the test and anyone with wandering eyes would be subject to failure. Well Ani Po placed herself at an angle from the boy sitting next to her, as to allow her eyes not to cross the imaginary forty-five degree angle of acceptable field of view (FOV). To her right a boy, with their expected FOV of forty-five degrees in front of them, so their eyes would not cross into the range of the other persons test. To Ani Po’s left…nobody, allowing her clear FOV to be at a ninety degree angle.

As she took her test her eyes wandered into the clear FOV, as she tiptoed through the imaginary canvas of life, allowing the answers to flow freely into her being and onto her paper, as to not cross an imaginary line with the boy next to her. Doing so, the teacher yells out, “Ani Po stop! Please turn in your test…you are through taking the test and you have been caught cheating.”

Ani Po was mortified and humiliated in front of the other children, all the while knowing deep within her heart she was not cheating. Her eyes surely did not cross the safe-zone of her neighbor.

Immediately anger and rage enter her being. She has choices: either sit quietly, turning in her test, only to go home crying and accept punishment for what she did not do; get angry and yell at the teacher for her unfairness, resulting in further punishment for being disruptive; or there is another approach.

In this case…Ani Po silently kept taking the test, scoring a near perfect score and politely asked to be excused (with test in hand). Ani Po was granted permission and immediately went to the principal’s office, turning in her work to the principal with an accusation of an unjust teacher. After hearing the words of the student, the principal declares, “we stand by our teachers one hundred percent and we have to trust that she made the right decision.” Unsettled by this answer, Ani Po kept her test in hand and knew that she must engage her parents but not without first stating, “if you do not hear my plea, I will move to have this teacher removed from teaching in the future.”

The principal was not amused by the behavior of this young child who clearly, in her eyes, did not take well to authority, “Your behavior here is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.” Ani Po, again, took the silent passive approach when she asked to be excused from school for the day.

That night, when her father came home, she was called into the living room to discuss her behavior in school. Hearing her story, he called a meeting with her teacher, principal and family attorney (as a last resort). The meeting was scheduled the very next day, with the family attorney available by phone if needed.

Arriving at school, Ani Po, noticing in the conference room awaited the teacher, her principal and a counselor. Uneasy by what she was about to face, her father takes her hand, assuring her that everything is going to be OK.

After Ani Po’s story, the night before, her father spoke freely, with clear expectations of a just society, “we are here to learn and if any one teacher is not hear to guide our students or nurture growth, then maybe it is time for them to retire. My daughter has told me her story and you ma’am, now staring directly at the semi-retired nun, were not just. You clearly have pent-up anger or dislike for my daughter and/or her willingness to stand up to authority when things are not right. Whatever the case, I feel you may have interpreted the situation wrongly or reached your boiling point with these children.”

Shocked by his words, the teacher immediately became defensive and began speaking poorly of his daughter.

Ani Po’s father did not appreciate the discouraging words leaving her tongue and abruptly stopped her with a lesson from their religious beliefs:

Jesus says in Matthew 5:23-24,

23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift

I sit here now, asking you to look within your heart as to what is right here. Did Ani Po do wrong? Are you here to encourage these children or are you here to discourage them, out of anger for something that you regret doing in your own personal life or persecutions?

With tears in her eyes, the teacher removes herself from the table and leaves the room…never to teach again.

The principal apologizes to the father and Ani Po, not without first commending Ani Po for her bravery and her tactful ways of making things just.

Ani Po is not any different from any other child in our current state of society, as this unjust behavior often happens, afflicting them by such behavior. In these situations it is usually an outcome of the child getting into trouble with her own parents and remaining confused…often silent for the rest of their lives. This teaching style further encourages the victims to carry out the same behavior as the teacher did towards Ani Po.

“An eye for an eye, makes two people blind.” ~Gandhi

So what do we do? Do we passively allow another person to speak poorly of another? It is our choice to either sit quietly, saying nothing or stand for what is right. Taking the latter approach is not often accepted by our society, as we have all been conditioned to think that we are superior than the next. In our own short-comings, we project our own shadows onto the next person, in hopes of making ourselves a better person.

That which does not kill us, only makes us stronger. ~Fred Nietzsche

In the case of Ani Po and her friend, having to be present with these other people, she agrees with Mamani to excuse herself from the room of an unjust conversation. Is she wrong for leaving? Sadly, there is always going to be good and evil fighting amidst pilgrims of our world, Ani Po merely chooses when to step in…or in this case..step out.

It takes a warrior to firmly stand in just, when those around her are not. ~Ani Po

Stepping into the Canvas as just. As pilgrims we are left within the canvas lost…still searching for truth; as Warrior we find truth…standing firmly in what is just…no matter the price paid.  We can choose to paint the Canvas of a pilgrim or paint as that of a Warrior, spreading more brilliant, radiant colors wherever we go…leading The Way.