"With every adversity comes an equal or greater opportunity, and right now, that opportunity is to love each other, like we've never loved each other."
I’m not sure if our world has ever been this divided. From my vantage point, I’ve never seen so much judgement, condemnation, hatred, and vitriol toward one another, especially between people of different belief systems.
The reality is that we’re all human beings. We’re all part of the human family, and no matter how our beliefs might differ from one another, we’re all a lot more alike than we are different. We all want to be happy, to be healthy, to have freedom, to feel safe, and to feel respected.
Inspired by a Facebook Live session I did last week, today’s episode is about the consequences of judging and condemning others, the power of unconditional love (and why it’s not the same thing as tolerating harmful or abusive behavior), and how this radical gesture has the power to help us heal the world.
- The consequences of judging others based on your own life experiences.
- Why human beings have so much more in common than we do differences.
- How unconditional love can heal the world, beginning with healing yourself.
- How do you love someone who has wronged you?
- Trading in your judgement for empathy.
- The difference between blame and responsibility.
- What it means to be part of a human family.
- Why putting labels on people makes it impossible to appreciate, respect, or love them.
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Hal Elrod: Hey, goal achievers and members of the Miracle Morning Community. Welcome to today's podcast. It’s Hal Elrod. We had a change of plans. I have a podcast that I recorded with my good friend, Justin Donald, that was going to come out today, and Justin has a new book, his first book that just came out, The Lifestyle Investor. Check that on Amazon. So, that episode I'm going to release as a bonus episode. In fact, I might have already sent it to you. I'm not sure when that date would be but the point is, I really felt compelled to share a message with you, a really simple message, and it's about how we treat each other and how we view each other, and how we judge or don't judge one another, and really about loving each other. I'm sharing this because our country right now is divided, and I should say our country, our world, but I live here in the United States and so I can speak a little bit closer to home, but people are divided. Especially in our country, the left versus right, various political parties, or the two main political parties, I've never seen such hatred and vitriol and judgment and condemnation from us, from our citizens, and it's concerning. Now, I will say, by the way, you may find what you look for. I've also seen a lot of love and I've seen a lot of awakening and a lot of growth, and I've seen a lot of people that are really, really getting in touch with what matters most to them as human beings. And so, I don't want to discount that.
Then for those of you that are loving other people unconditionally and that isn't judging or condemning just because they have different political beliefs from you and maybe, well, yeah, I'm with you. By the way, this isn't planned. I just did a Facebook Live and I went on this topic for a little while and just based on the comments from people and how I felt intuitively, I thought, "You know what, this is an important message,” and it was just about loving each other. We’re all human beings and I believe that we're part of the human family, and we have a hell of a lot more in common than we have different races or religions, or political parties or ages or sexes. Who cares? I don't mean to be dismissive when I say, "Who cares?” What I mean by who cares is, does it really separate us? Like, you're a human being, I'm a human being. We both want to be happy and we want to be healthy, and we want freedom, and we want to live in a place that's safe. We want to be respected, right? Like, if you make a list of our differences, which mostly are physical, superficial in some way, if you make a list of our differences, it'd be a pretty short list. Well, that person's skin color is this versus mine and their age is this versus mine and their nationality or their race is this versus mine, and their religion is this versus mine, and they live in this place versus mine.
You can make the list of our differences but if you make the list of what we have in common, fundamentally, we're the same. We're human beings. You could say we're spiritual beings but that's not the road that I'm going to go down today or maybe we will. I'm not sure. But the point is that we all have more in common than we have different, and what we have in common are fundamental commonalities and what we have different, I would say, are much more superficial differences. I'm seeing so much, and I'm sure you are too, so much anger and vitriol toward other people. My invitation is for you to consider that, A, we have more in common than we have different, that, b, we're all part of the big human family, and then, C, I'm going to just share some different thoughts and perspectives and paradigms around how you not only treat other people but how you view other people because how we view other people is what gives birth to how we treat other people. If you view another person as evil, if you view another person as wrong or stupid, or any other label that you want to put onto that person, if you view them in that way, then I'd say inherently, you're not going to respect them or appreciate them or love them because they are not what you believe is right.
Hal Elrod: So, I want to share with you a paradigm that first and foremost for me was really empowering. It was really a game changer and I adopted it when I was relatively young, sometime in my 20s, because I can remember a very specific story. And I've shared this probably years ago on the podcast. I've shared this at some point in the podcast. First, I'll share the paradigm and then I'll share the story, and then I'll reinforce the paradigm. So, the paradigm is realizing that if we had lived another person's life so to take another person who you judge as like a person that you liked the least, okay, let's kind of start there. And it might be someone that you know, maybe you see them on Facebook and they post stuff that just triggers you, it just upsets you, and angers you, and you think, "How could they be so stupid? How could they believe that that's true? I just feel so much animosity toward them.” Or maybe it's someone in your life that abused you or is currently abusing you, someone that was mean to you, someone that physically maybe harmed you. It was a parent. So, take a person in your life that you dislike, that you don't respect for how they treat you or they treated other people. It could be a famous figure like Hitler, right, someone that did horrible things to other human beings, literally, took their lives. And so, of course, you've deemed them as they are a terrible person.
So, take someone that you don't like, all right, and here's the question again. Consider that if we had lived that person's life, exactly born with their brain, literally, we had lived their life. We were them. We had their brain. We had their thought processes. We were raised by the same people that they were raised by and thus, had the same influences. We were taught what they were taught. We were exposed to all that they were exposed to. If we had lived their life, born with their brain and live their life, consider that there's a very good chance that we are, let's say you, would be exactly the same as they are. You would do everything that they do. You would say everything that they say because you're them. See, it's easy for us to judge others based on our life experience. “I would never do that. They are a horrible person for doing that. I would never do that. They are terrible. I would never say that. I would never think that. I know better. I'm right. They're wrong.” It's easy to judge other people based on our life experience but maybe if you had been raised by their parents, beaten, abused, and have their brain, had the same emotional state, if you were them, there's a very good chance you'd make the exact same decisions. So, while it's easy to judge from our life experience, it's not necessary and I guess the question is what really comes down to is, well, what's the consequence of us judging other people and condemning other people based on our life experience? If any, what consequence is there?
Well, if you look at the civil unrest, if you look at all of the violence in our world right now, if you look at all of the people shaming other people for wearing a mask or not wearing a mask or judging other people as sheep or whatever, obviously, it doesn't unite us. Judging other people, condemning other people based on our life experience, divides. That is the consequence. Let's look at it in the micro and then see how that affects the macro. Imagine it in your family, right? Imagine in your immediate household. If you judged and condemned another person in your immediate household for not living the way that you thought was right based on your life experience, would that create disharmony in your household? Probably. Now, maybe you keep your mouth shut. You don't say anything. That's always an option. And in that case, it only creates disharmony within you. Actually, I don't think that's true. I think the other person will probably sense it if you hated them because of their choices. You condemned them because of their actions. Even if you didn't say anything, they probably feel it. They probably sense it. Everything is energy. Everything is energy. If somebody doesn't like you, you can usually pick up on that, right? You got to be a really good actor to be able to hide your contempt for another person.
So, on the micro, in the family unit, judging and condemning others based on your opinions, knowledge, and life experiences creates division within your household. It creates disharmony. It hurts them and I would argue that it hurts you. When we harbor resentment inside of us, when we harbor hate, or the judgment, anything that we harbor inside of us, it affects us. It affects our psyche in ways that we often don't even realize and sometimes our intellect overrides. We try to override and go, "She doesn't bother me. I don't care what she thinks. I don't care what she does.” But more often than not, we do. So, on the micro, it creates disharmony, it creates division within our household. So, what does it do to the world? Well, the world is the macro. That's just the bigger household, right? Maybe we step it out a little bit. So, you go, okay, within your household, how that judgment and condemnation and criticism, how that affects you, how that affects the people in your household? Then let's go to your neighbor. Maybe you have a neighbor that you don't like. They're so annoying. They frustrate you. They've done bad things to you, intentionally. So, if you judge them for their actions, you hold them in contempt, you feel negativity towards your neighbor, negative energy, hateful energy that affects you once again and it affects your relationship with your neighbor.
So, you can take those examples and then spread them around the world, around your city, around your country, around the world. It's this judgment and condemnation based on our life experience that's caused genocides in our world, that's causing genocide right now in places like Armenia. It's this judgment and condemnation. It's people believing that their way is the right way and others are wrong that caused the Holocaust. So, on the micro, what impacts your family, on the macro impacts society. So, that's the consequence. Well, that's a big picture consequence. It’s the broad consequence. I think that the point I'm trying to get to is, is there a consequence of judging others and condemning others based on our life experience and our expectations and our opinions? Absolutely. If there is a consequence, a negative consequence, is there a better way? And is there a benefit? Is there a benefit to choosing another way? When I say another way, in the simplest terms, I would call that love. If you want to define that a little bit more specific, I would call that unconditional love, loving people unconditionally. Now, there may be some pushback on that because there are some nuances here meaning you say, "Well, if someone abuses you, physically or emotionally, they abused you, you shouldn't love them unconditionally because they'll just keep abusing you. I get that perspective but you could love them unconditionally and still leave the relationship. You could love them unconditionally and break ties with that person.
Here's the point. To love someone unconditionally, first and foremost, is something that you do for yourself. It's something that you do for yourself because the first benefit, the most fundamental benefit is that you don't have to live with that resentment inside of you, with that hate inside of you, with that judgment and condemnation inside of you, that does affect you. It does have detrimental effects. Everything is energy and we have what I would call, in simple terms, negative energy within us. It affects us. I mean, think about it. If you hate another person or you don't like another person and the thought of that person just makes your blood boil, that's a thing. Meaning it's affecting you physically, mentally, emotionally, and here's what's interesting. Unless you're communicating to that person that you hate them, every time you think about hating them, it's not even affecting them. Now, it might be on some sort of spiritual cosmic level, in an energetic level, sure. It might be but my point is, just in practical terms, when you harbor negative feelings towards another person, those are your feelings. They are affecting you, not necessarily the other person. There may be someone right now that is thinking negative thoughts about me, and they hate me and I just frustrate the heck out of them. I don't know. I personally have no idea right now if that person's thinking that but they're experiencing that and they're suffering. They're creating internal inner turmoil because of the judgment and condemnation they have toward me or toward you or toward anyone.
So, the first reason that I'm inviting you to learn and I'm going to talk more about how to do this but to love all. That's my invitation, by the way. I don't think I started it out. Again, I don't have an outline. I literally have no notes. I have no notes. This is a rant. I'm just talking. I don't have any notes here. But the point is the invitation is for you to consider, right now it's just consider, you don't have to make a decision, to consider to love all people beginning with yourself, by the way, that can become another podcast, but to love all people unconditionally. The reason the benefit is that that's how you just decide to show up. That's what I've talked about on the podcast a week or two, the last two episodes really, I talked about that measuring your best year based on how you show up, not just based on your results. And so, I'm inviting you to consider that when you show up in a place where you love all people unconditionally, all people, all, A-L-L, all people unconditionally. That's how we begin to heal ourselves and it's how we heal the world. Imagine if every leader that waged war on another country or another city or village, imagine every person that committed murder or crime, imagine if all of them if they loved all people unconditionally, you're likely not to attack another person or another village or another country. You're likely to not do harm to anyone when you love all people unconditionally. That's how we heal the world. Consider that.
Now, you might say, “But, Hal…” There's a lot of things you might say. One might be, "Hal, how do you love someone that has done wrong whether to you or to another person? How do you love someone who has wronged you, has hurt you, has betrayed you?” It goes back to the paradigm that I shared with you earlier. If you had lived their life, you would likely be exactly the same. If you had their brain and had the same life experiences, for example, imagine a gang member beats up or kills another person. Now, the average amongst us that has never experienced gang life and never killed anyone might judge that person and go, “What a horrible human being that they would take another life,” because we're judging them based on our life experience,” I would never do what they did so, therefore, I can judge them. Based on my life experience, I can condemn them. I can deem them horrible.” But if you had lived their life and been neglected by your parents and gotten into gang life early and watched people be murdered in front of you, and then to fit in, you had to do the same or you would be left without anyone. Based on your young evolving brain as a teenager, you had found a tribe that would accept you and everyone around you said, all the other gang members said, “Yeah, this is the tribe. This is where you want to be. Do whatever they say. Just shut your mouth and do whatever they say. They'll kill you if you don't do what they say. They'll kick you out. You'll be on the street. You'll have no one to protect you. You'll be an enemy of this gang if you don't…” And by the way, I'm talking like I know what it's like to be in a gang. I don't. I have no idea. I'm imagining.
If you would live that person's life and had that kind of pressure and that kind of exposure to gang life and it became your norm and then you watched killing after killing after killing and some pretty influential gang leaders convinced you that this was right in the same way that Hitler and many leaders have convinced their people that this is right, then there's a chance that you would have done exactly what they did. That person, that gang member probably knew in their heart that it was wrong but how often do we do things that we know in our heart are wrong? I'm not talking about murder but, I mean, we do things. We eat things. We make choices that intuitively we know in our heart are not the right choices, but we do it for whatever reasons, different reasons. So, the point is that if you would live another person's life, you might be exactly the same. And so, in that way, there's really no basis to judge another human being, not accurately because you've never lived their life. And therefore, why condemn someone for doing something that you might have done exactly the same thing if you had lived their life? Are you any better than them because you had a different life and you made different decisions?
So, going back to the consequences of judging and condemning other people based on your life experience. On the micro, it creates disharmony and division in your family, in your neighborhood, in your community, in your city, in your state, in your country, in the world. Ultimately, simply you could say there's an overall negative consequence but when you choose to love people, and by the way, forgiving people, forgiveness is part of this. It's going, "Hey, I love you. I understand what you did.” Let me actually pause. Before I talk about forgiveness, empathy. I think empathy which really goes back to this paradigm of if you had lived their life, you'd probably do the same thing. If someone does something that's horrific instead of judging and condemning, what if you traded in your judgment for empathy? You went, “Wow. That person must be suffering inside so deeply that they would do that or they must have been so misguided in their life, that they would do that. That poor person, not that horrible murder, not that horrible beat, but that poor person.” I'll give you a real-life example. When I was 20, if you've listened to the podcast for more than a week, you know that I had a car accident. I was hit head-on by a drunk driver at age 20, at 70 miles per hour. And then that sent me into the oncoming traffic where another car crashed into my driver side door at 70 miles per hour and crushed the left side of my body, breaking 11 bones from my femur up to my eye socket, and quite a few in between.
I went to the hearing for the drunk driver and my parents, I had trouble speaking at that time because of the brain damage that I suffered. It was kind of hard for me to communicate. I mean, I could communicate but not very eloquently. And so, my parents sat down with me before the trial or before the court case and they said, “Hal, do you want to speak?” I don't remember exactly why. I think I was having trouble communicating but I said, "Will you guys communicate on my behalf? Can I tell you what I want to communicate and then you guys say it for me?” And they said, “Sure.” For me, I had no resentment toward the drunk driver. I don't think back then I thought in these terms of loving him but I would say that I loved him as a human being and I love all people. I could have hated him. In fact, I have a friend who was also hit by a drunk driver, and she, to this day, it's been decades and she hates him. I mean, literally, she writes on Facebook, “I hope he burns in hell.” She has so much hate toward him. Again, who's that affecting? It's not affecting him. He's probably not on her Facebook account. It's affecting her. She harbors hate and resentment toward this person because he hit her in a car.
Here was my take. I went, "If I had lived his life, I might have gone and had a few beers that night, too.” Then the fact that he only lived a few miles from the bar, I might have convinced myself while I was inebriated, that it was okay to get in the car and I could make it. No problem. Not a big deal. I could see that. I could see myself convincing myself of that, especially if I were under the influence of alcohol and then I might have hit someone in a head-on collision and almost taking their life. It didn't make me a horrible human being. It meant I made a bad decision to drink and drive. So, that was my thought process back then. I thought I don't have any ill will toward him. None. Zero. But the beauty of that is I was free. So, it goes back to what I said earlier, unless actually I said, never mind, I said this on the Facebook Live I did today. There's a difference between blame and responsibility and I think we get confused, and that's where we struggle. I believe that we should take responsibility for everything in our lives, everything, and you go, well, how can I take responsibility for something that's not my fault? For example, how could I take responsibility for being hit head-on by a drunk driver? I didn't. I didn't drive drunk. That wasn't my response. How can I take responsibility for that?
Here's the thing. Responsibility is not the same as blame. Blame determines who's at fault. The drunk driver was at fault. Someone that did something to you might be at fault but responsibility is about taking ownership of what's in your control moving forward. So, I wasn't at fault for being hit by a drunk driver. I wasn't to blame for that. It wasn't my fault. But if not mine, whose responsibility was it to take ownership of what would happen from that point forward? I could either live as a victim and go, “Why me? This isn't fair,” and I get hate toward him that I could still be harboring today like my friend. I could still be harboring that hate and resentment. It doesn't serve me. It doesn't serve her. Maybe it does. I don't know. I don't think it does. I think it hurts more than it helps. But I forgot where I was going with that. So, the point is… That's what I say when I can't remember what I was saying. I go, "The point is…” and I try to think of a point. All right. The point is that I had forgiven the drunk driver. I never held anything against him. I had forgiven him before it even happened. Just for me, there was no reason to resent or condemn or hold any negative feelings toward him. So, when my parents spoke, what we asked for, by the way, that the judge wanted to give him the maximum sentence, which was three years in prison. I think there was another part of the sentence. I don't remember. What I asked for, I thought, well, him - so I actually looked at him with compassion. I went, "Gosh.”
So, this guy's 31 years old, didn't speak English. He, I believe, was Mexican and he had a young child like a three-year-old son and his wife. He was 31 years old and I thought him sitting in prison for three years, I don't know what that accomplishes other than him having a lot of time to think about what he did and the impact that it had, and how it affected his life so that he might never do it again. That, to me, was the benefit. The consequences were that his kid was going to grow up without a dad for three years and it wasn't the kid’s fault that his dad made a mistake. I thought, is that good for the child to suffer? Now, mind you, I was 20 years old when I was thinking all this through. But I thought, “How could I make this more productive?” I thought, "Yes, him spending some time in jail so he has the time to really think and experience the consequences of his choices, I think that's valuable,” but I don't know that three years in prison is going to be more beneficial than one year in prison. I think that a year is enough time. So, actually, my request was that he serve six months in prison instead of three years. But my request was that the remaining two-and-a-half years, he was required to go speak at schools. I think high school is what I requested about the consequences of drinking and driving. I thought that would actually be productive, rather than him just sitting in jail, being away from his son, his child, and his wife for three years.
I thought six months was a significant amount of time for him to really ponder the consequences of his choices so he wouldn't make them again. Then the remaining time, I thought, why sit in a jail cell? Why not be out there actively contributing to society by sharing his story in a way that might prevent, even if it prevented, think about that, if it prevented one other person from killing someone or crashing or hurting themselves, it would be worth it. So, that was my request. I had no hard feelings towards the guy. Anyway, long story short, the judge didn't care for my creative sentence. He didn't give it much of anything and he gave the guy the easy, simple three years in prison, no questions asked. I don't know how much time he served. I didn't follow up on it. But the point is, again, we're going to the point. The point is I harbored no judgment or condemnation or hate or ill will toward this person and I gave myself freedom from the inner turmoil that that would create. I'm inviting you to consider, is there someone in your life that you harbor negative feelings toward because of something that they did to you or to someone that you love? Now, it could be someone in your personal life. It could even be someone in the government right now. It could be toward a public figure that you feel has done wrong by you and your fellow countrymen and you're judging them. Trust me. There's a lot of people in various political position right now that I think are overstepping their power that are not… Anyway, that's another episode.
I will say this by the way, though, because I think this is important in the political realm because that probably right now is more heated than I've ever seen and maybe you can resonate with that. I've never seen so much negativity and anger and hate toward people for not believing what you believe or I believe, for not wearing the mask or for wearing the mask, right? If you don't wear a mask, you're putting everyone at risk. And if you wear a mask, you're a sheep. So, it's like there is judgment on both sides. If you're a Democrat, you're supporting socialism and China and if you're a Republican, then you're – I’m trying to think of what the negative is. The point is that either side, the other side is judging and condemning the other side like each other. I've heard a lot of, "You're an idiot if you believe _____. You don't care about humanity if you believe ______.” So, in that regard, I would invite you to consider that had you lived the person's life, think about someone that believes the opposite of you of what you believe. If you would live their life and you'd been exposed to what they'd been exposed to, you'd probably believe the same things. You'd vote the same way. You'd support the same policies. Not because you're a good or a bad person or anything, right? No, because what you were exposed to. So, for us to judge another and go, "It's your fault that the country is the way that it is,” or, "You voted now and this is going to happen. You're a traitor or whatever.” No. People are just doing the best with what they believe is right.
So, I'm inviting you, again, to love all people unconditionally because it has to start somewhere. We talked about earlier that that is the beginning of healing the world. We wouldn't have war if everyone that initiated the war loved all people and valued all people and the lives of all people equally and unconditionally. All people. We wouldn't have the genocide. Maybe I'm sure there's always an argument. I'm sure there's some caveat to this, that I'm not thinking of that you might be going, “Hal, you're wrong, blah, blah, blah.” I don't know. I don't know. Maybe I am. Maybe I am. Maybe you're right. Maybe we shouldn't love all people. We should keep judging and condemning and harboring hate toward other people, right? I'm inviting you to consider one paradigm, one possibility, and it begins with each of us. It begins with loving our neighbor as thyself. It begins with not judging, condemning others just because they're different than us or what we think they're wrong and acknowledging that they're doing what they think is right or what they feel compelled to do, for whatever reason. None of us are perfect, right? Let he who has not sinned throw the first stone. I've made mistakes. I don't always live in line with my values. I try, but I don't always. And I think for all of us, there's a huge opportunity right now. With every adversity comes an equal or greater opportunity, and right now, that opportunity is to love each other, like we've never loved each other.
So, it's a step up and love harder and deeper and stronger and broader than we ever have before. And we can heal humanity through love as simple or pie in the sky as that may sound, it's the first step or it's a step. I'm inviting you to take it with me. I'm inviting you. I'm inviting all of us to stop judging, stop condemning, and start loving. When you see something that triggers you, when you see a Facebook post or Instagram post or something on the news that triggers you, that causes you, it stirs up some emotions inside you, some anger, some hate, some frustration, some desperation, some confusion, I'm inviting you to put your hand on your heart, take a deep breath, maybe even close your eyes, and just say I love you. It'll feel weird because you just wrote something that pissed you out and angered you but you get to choose how you experience another person. You get to choose whether you experience another person through a paradigm of hate, judgment, and condemnation, or a paradigm of love, empathy, and acceptance. We're all human beings. We’re part of the human family. And like any good family, it only works if you love each other. It only works if you forgive each other, for your mistakes. It only works if you strive to understand where the other person is coming from. And it only works if you love each other as all of us deserve to be loved.
Hal Elrod: So, that's my invitation. I love you. Thank you for listening to this. I hope something that I said today shifted something inside for you and gave you permission to let go of the judgment and the condemnation and the resentment that you might have for other people that you harbor inside that causes you suffering and it causes them suffering. And if we can all start with ourselves and through the power of love and loving others, we can heal ourselves and release that judgment and condemnation and hatred and resentment, and we can let it go and be free from it, and then express our thoughts and opinions, not from a place of righteousness or judgment but from a place of love and go, “Hey, have you considered this way of seeing the world? No? Okay.” That's okay. Just keep putting it out there. Keep showing up. Keep showing up from a place of love for yourself and others and maybe, just maybe what has been one of the most challenging last 12 months for our world could be the spark that creates healing for our world. Alright. Once again, I love you and I'll talk to you all next week. Take care.
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