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.
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.