When I was an Undergraduate at UNC- Chapel Hill, I was a member of the Dialectic and Philanthropic Societies. Established in 1795, DiPhi is the oldest student organization at UNC. They are a literary and debate society dedicated to upholding ideals of rational thought, the free interchange of ideas, and the study of the history of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. My mother, when she was an undergraduate in 1939-41 was a member, and its President for a year, and she urged me to join. She had been raised a good Presbyterian girl, but going to college and travel in prewar Europe had broadened her mind. She loved intellectual debate and gave as good as she got. I tended to be ruled by emotion and feelings in debates and she thought that DiPhi would be a good training ground to give reasoned thought a chance rather than settle for emotional tirades.
She had met my father at Carolina but he was not in DiPhi, for with the mind of an engineer, he had no interest in, or time for, debates. Raised a good Roman Catholic he respected authority. There certain things like truths, like 1+1=2 that were not debatable, and duties which one accepted, most of the rest were prejudices or habits of culture that civilized people could outgrow or put up with. He thought that organizations like DiPhi were training grounds for facile cleverness of future politicians and pre-law students; neither of which were high on his approval charts.
I remember one time in my Freshman year, when I was home for Christmas vacation in December of 1964. and my older brother, Paul, was on leave from his first six months in the Marines. I was about to turn 18 and was to sign up for my draft card. Across the dinner table, Paul and I debated the increasing Vietnam war. I was suggesting that it would be wrong for me to kill another human being and Paul talked about the need to go in and (in his words) “clean up the place and waste some gooks.” My father, who had been a Major in the Marine Corps, seeing combat in the South Pacific in World War II, stopped the debate, Pointing at me he said: “If you don't want to kill someone aim high. But you owe your country your life.” Pointing at Paul, he said, “But not your mind.” Almost 2 years later when my father was in a coma at a hospital and neither Paul or I could deal with the advent of my father's death, out of our fears we continued that debate- wasting a heck of a lot of time when my mother needed us. This debate had been about frightened egos and not a search for the truth.
I see frightened egos at work all the time when people project all sorts of things on others. When A person who seemingly can't help but lie, starts to accuse others of telling falsehoods and hoaxes. When governing bodies spend so much time on debates of mutual blaming instead of working on problems. When organizations, even churches, forget why they have formed and only major in the minors clinging to the dead past.
The Apostle Paul came to Athens and wandered up to the Areopagus to join the debates. The Apostle had a choice. He did not need to feed his ego but he wanted to help people by listening and then sharing his vision of the truth as he started his Apologia. Born and raised as a good Pharisee, Paul had a choice to continue in the vein that he had followed for most of his life and attacked. I am sure he felt tempted to thunder out, throwing the fear of God into his opponents and quote scripture from the 20th chapter of Exodus, the first two commandments:
When I was in the process of doing dream study, one of the guest instructors was Kathleen Wiley, a woman of deep faith, an author and a Jungian Analyst, practicing in Davidson, N.C. She writes an occasional meditation on line which I devour as soon as it comes. In March her offering was based on John 18: 28-38, Facing our Killer Fears. She presents Pilate as a person who wants Jesus to answer questions which he will not listen to and he is furious with the religious leaders who are afraid of Jesus, but Pilate feels trapped by his own fear that things may get out of hand. Fear is what happens when our consciousness is raised. Kathleen then starts calling Pilate- “Pilot”P-I-L-O-T, for fear is Piloting him. She writes:
To incarnate means to embody. To embody means to integrate into our personality and physical being. This means experiencing and using the energies in service of life. We embody as we relate, respond, and give the new consciousness it’s rightful place. We choose to invite the new to inform our inner and outer actions. Our soul becomes the ruling authority.
When we follow the soul’s lead, our thoughts, feelings, and movements reflect the realities of our truer nature. We no longer bow down to the internalized legalisms of shoulds, musts, and ought tos. , Our soul’s energies become the ruling principles, guiding impulses, and originator of our actions. We live in soul’s knowing and truth. We break our allegiance to the internalized authority that reflects the voice of the outside collective norms.