Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Microsoft vs. Jesus

A Most Challenging Teaching

My wife and daughter had made a valiant effort to upgrade our Quickbooks software. Together, they poured over bulletin boards, tips, online support bulletins, and other esoterica. They sat through hours of downloading a big glob of software to replace/repair another big glob of software (the .NET framework, for you geekazoids), in hopes that the problem would go away. According to Intuit, that was one potential source of the problem.

No luck, however. And, to make matters worse, there were other software updates that would not install - in particular, a security update for Microsoft Office.

Though I have sworn off being the "help desk/IT guy" for others (including my mother-in-law, so you know I'm serious), I could not bring myself to ignore this problem and/or just take the shop computer to some other tech guy without looking at it myself.

I have worked on myself very, very hard, and for a long time. I have done deep introspection and exhumed long-buried skeletons. I have "peaced out", according to my own sons.

And yet.

I have to question the depth of my transformation when, within 30 minutes of sitting in front of this problem, I began to feel rage.

Rage at the appallingly bad software and system constructs of Microsoft Windows.

Rage at the ridiculously inadequate self-help tools and absurd trouble-shooting tips offered by Microsoft itself.

Rage that ANY company, much less one that is so wealthy and stocked with so many highly intelligent people could tolerate such an abysmally, shockingly atrocious user experience.

Rage at the time wasted not just by me, but, no doubt, by thousands upon thousands of others just like me (or worse, because they might have even less of an opportunity to actually FIX the problem, and would resort to formatting their hard disks, reinstalling and in some cases repurchasing software, and getting their computing resources back into functioning trim).

That's a lot of rage.

Now, let me be clear. This missive is not really about how disgustingly awful I feel Microsoft products are, although it feels good to write this all down.

In fact, it's about how thin my veneer of inner peace seems to be in certain places. And the fact that it feels good to rage at this giant, faceless monster of a company.

Why does it, still, after all this self-work? Why is my calm so thin in spots?

I occasionally have dreams and daydreams about situations in which I am weak and largely helpless in the face of some bullying force. Sometimes its just some thugs threatening me or my family. Sometimes it's a post-apocalyptic gang of vandals intruding on my carefully tended vegetable garden or commune. The scenarios vary.

What seems invariant is my response. Aggression. Anger. Fury. I cast evil spells on them. I hit, hurt, and kill them. The idea of letting them live only passes through, to be replaced by, "Well, they'll just be all the more angry because you have humiliated them, and they'll be back with even more malice, so you might as well end it right here, right now."

Where does that come from?

Jesus said, "Love your enemies". Even as they were nailing him to the cross, he was offering love and forgiveness to them. He was willing to die at the hands of the unworthy and ignorant. He was willing to have his beautiful, magical, valuable life destroyed by thugs.

To do so requires a perspective that in the face of violence, no violence offered in return (turn the other cheek) is a better option than fighting back (an eye for an eye). That dying and/or enslavement is better than killing (or hurting or maiming) to preserve one's ability to live free.

That takes a lot of guts. And a lot of love.

I'm not there yet.


  1. I think, perhaps, that there are two different issues here and that they are not necessarily dependent on each other.
    The first is rage/anger. One can't be blamed for feeling rage in certain situations, especially in the face of frustration. However, no external force can 'make' a person feel angry, as you know, the emotion is generated from within our minds. It's just a momentary loss of self-control, maybe it's indicative of something else that's bothering us, maybe we need some rest, or maybe it's just part of being a human being (I feel emotions strongly and I know you do too, because we share some genetics). Jesus Christ is a legend, a symbol, not a real person. He is an ideal, real people feel rage, it's how we deal with it that matters. That's the other issue.
    The world being what it is, aggressive action is sometimes a necessary part of our existence. One can still love their enemies while defending themselves from them. It's when we let our rage drive our decisions that we become vengeful and cruel. I'm not trying to justify violence or aggression, but it seems to me that the world is made a better and more free place sometimes by both those who take action for love AND those who die for it.

  2. Thanks, K.

    I dunno. There's so much mystery and hidden knowledge out there. I'm discovering so much, some of which flies in the face of logic, and your logic is hard to refute.

    These teachings that I'm getting from Death...they put a lot of seemingly irreconcilable stuff into context and make it understandable, leaving me to wrestle with my more base nature. I'm going to try to write about them soon.

    Meanwhile, it dawned on me that, well, maybe the physical human being is just wired for a) survival (thanks, Cap'n Obvious) and b) justice. And I'm OK with that, as far as it goes. I have a sneaking suspicion that there's something deeper, though. Like a light glowing under a bushel hiding at the bottom of a root cellar under an abandoned barn. Not everybody is going to go exploring there, and they can get along just fine without doing so, I suppose.

    Without passing judgment on anyone else, and I mean that sincerely, I'm just not comfortable with this aspect of myself. It reminds me of the Kobiyashi Moru - the No Win Scenario from Star Trek. I just don't believe it's that simple, and will continue haggling and challenging destiny until I run out of breath(s), or I come to a different understanding.

    Ahhh, mystery...