On December 7, 2014, Rev. Peter Graham addressed the assembled congregation at the Community Miracles Center in San Francisco, CA. What follows is a lightly edited transcription of his talk.
The title of my talk today is, "Flip the Script." It's interesting how I came to this title. As some of you who have heard me speak before know, I have a fond passion for studying history. Today is actually a very historic day. Some of you probably know this. December 7th is the anniversary date of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, which in our nation's history is significant. The President at the time, President Franklin Delano. Roosevelt referred to it as the "date which will live in infamy." I was actually going to name my talk "Day of Infamy." I was thinking to do that, then I looked up the word "infamy" and it means remembering a horrific event. (laughter)
So I thought I better not. I better not go there for this one. It was still one of the inspirations for my talk for several reasons. For one, I grew up in a family that had several people who were in World War II. My grandmother is very near and dear to me and — even though she is ninety six — she sends donations to the Community Miracles Center. She was the one who talked to me about her experiences with World War II. There were other people in my family who were in it, but they didn't want to talk about it. However, my grandmother has never been one to be shy about talking. She talked about her different experiences and that gave me a passionate interest in this war.
When I was a little kid I guess I was kind of geeky. I read a lot about World War II and was fascinated by it. There is a reason this relates to flipping the script. We all know "script" by it's definition as follows, "The manuscript or one of the various copies of a written text of a play, motion picture, radio, or television broadcast." Now we know A Course In Miracles is saying that, in some ways, there are two manifestations of the script. There is the script of what we think we understand. At least in the way I read the Course, I see it saying that. There is this series of events that are going to take place in our lives, that are going to happen. However, then there's also the script in terms of how we interprete these events. We can interpret the events with the love of the Holy Spirit or we can interpret the events with the fear of the ego. So there are these sets of events, and at the same time, we must ask, "How do we interpret these events?"
I remember as a young boy thinking about this event that happened many years ago on December 7. It was portrayed, very much, as the people of Japan being cowards and attacking us with a sneak attack. However, what's interesting about that interpretation for me is that when I first moved out here, one of the first places that I moved to, was a rented room in a house with a group of other guys. One of the guys, who was a master tenant, his father came to visit one time and his father was a veteran of World War II. What the father said while I was just talking to him one day — and we got to talking about World War II — he said, "You know that war with Japan could have been avoided." He told me what was happening was the United States and Japan weren't getting along. We embargoed their steel and their oil. What happened in Japan was that embargo encouraged an extremist, militaristic movement in Japan. The militarists were the people that were more of the Samurai mentality, the extremes of the Samurai culture. As you may know the Japanese have a tradition of a Samurai warrior culture. There's actually a lot of truly positive qualities about that, but there are — as in almost any ideology — there are extremist elements.
Japan saw its vital resources being threatened. As a consequence, this triggered a series of events when Japan decided that the only way that they were going to survive as a nation was to invade other countries. If you look at history, the areas that they invaded were places that had oil. Realize that the United States was not going to go along with that for too long, because it was interfering with our vital interests and so the war came about.
That doesn't make us wrong or the Japanese wrong. I'm not really passing any judgement about this. This just reminds us that often times the script that we're given, or the script that we are writing for ourselves, is not bringing us peace. If it's separating us from our brothers and sisters then you know its time to change the script. It's time to flip the script. Right?
This is in today's reading which we heard earlier read to us. It says this, "It is impossible the Son of God be merely driven by events outside of him. It is impossible that the happenings that come to him were not his choice. His power of decision is the determiner of every situation in which he seems to find himself by chance or accident." (OrEd.Tx.21.17) I know a lot of us who have studied A Course In Miracles are aware of this. It's not the big revolutionary ideas that we can work on. I was thinking, what are the small steps we can take? What is the process I can start?
I was asking Holy Spirit and I was thinking about my own process. I thought in order to flip the script from the ego's to the Holy Spirit's, my first step is that little willingness. I have to have that little willingness, because for me, the ego generally speaks first in situations which upset me. It's usually the ego that comes in and says something. I've had upsetting experiences this year, as we probably all have had our personal upsetting experiences, at my work place. I had two difficult parents from two different families. (Rev. Peter works as a Special Education instructor and administrator to grade school children for the San Francisco Unified School District.) I work with students with disabilities. The United States government has these plans, education plans, called IEPs (Individulaized Education Program which is for students with identifed disabilities). These empower the parents with an incredible amount of legal rights.
Usually parents are not that difficult. Most people fall into the realm of reason. Okay? However some people, they really don't. You all know there are some people who really don't always function in the realm of reason. I had some really difficult cases and they happened this past week. In both of the situations little incidences became reasons for the parents to call for a meeting with all the big wigs in the school district. And the reason that they can do this is because they have these federal IEP laws.
I asked Spirit for guidance and I sent emails, but it didn't diffuse the situation. All I can do in that situation is to just continue to pray and ask for guidance. As we all know the miracle somehow takes place just like that. Sometimes — the miracles take a little bit longer for that to happen.
Another challenging situation I have in my life, as many of you are also aware, is being a football coach at my high school. The script I had written for this was that I was going to become coach and bring back a winning tradition to my high school. So my first year as coach we were three wins and eight losses. In my second year we were one win and ten losses. (laughter)
That's a pretty nasty script if you want to listen to the ego, which I heard a lot. I heard it from my own inner dialogue. I heard a lot of suffering and critical thoughts within, and at times I heard it from the fans in the stands who were not happy for various reasons. I mean this is kind of funny, but I was thinking about it one time we were playing a game against Capuchino High School that is located in San Bruno, not too far away. We literally, for that game, had just eighteen players, which is the minimum legal number. You have to have at least eighteen players to play the game, and that's precisely all that we had. We were playing in their field. I got this total feeling like I was in a war zone, because during the game we were having so many guys hurt and injured that I got to the point where I was afraid to look behind my shoulder and see those injured guys sprawled on the field. Part of it was we're a San Francisco city school and kids don't take care of themselves as well as in some other places. It's also that the San Bruno team were just better trained athletes. They were. I shook hands with them after the game. They didn't look that well built on the field but when you shake hands these big guys, Polynesian / Samoian guys, I was thinking, "Wow, big hands, so strong." They just beat us up. It was interesting for me, at one point I was thinking, "Gosh, I might not have enough players to finish the game."
The point is that even in that moment when I thought this was like being on the battlefield, I could flip the script. I had parents screaming at me from the stands saying I should have never scheduled this game, shouting why didn't I stop the game? blah, blah, blah. I looked behind me and, I swear, it was like a MASH unit. There are all these players strewn all over the place. There were four or five guys laid out. However, I thought to myself, "Well, I can be above the battlefield. I'm just going to keep coaching until they tell me I can't play anymore." What else could I do? And that's what we did. We lost, and we lost by a lot, but there we were.
When we're talking about flipping the script, as I said, the first step is to be willing. The second step, which is also in A Course In Miracle is to be reminded of purpose. This was also read earlier today. "Only a constant purpose can endow events with stable meaning. But it must accord one meaning to them all." (OrEd.Tx.30.84) Okay. Where do we experience most of the ups and downs in our lives? It might be everywhere. Maybe it's in our relationship. Maybe it's in work, maybe it's in our relationships with our family. Maybe it is everywhere. The most ups and downs that I experience are probably in work, but they show up everywhere too. For example today — some of you know my partner Ken — he was supposed to come today to hear me speak. He's not an A Course In Miracles student so it's a challenge for him to get here. He's okay when he comes. He likes it here. However he has another person, another significant other in his life, who was going through a hard time and so Ken didn't feel like he could come to the service today. And I was thinking. "Well — is he dying?"(laughter) Really?
I'll be honest with you. I have to flip that script. I'm not happy about it. I'm not, but I'm also not that bothered by it either. I'm thinking that there will be other times I'll give talks at this Sunday service and, hopefully, he will come then. That's what we have to do.
The third step in flipping your script, is to forgive your fear. Some of you may be aware of what's going on in our country right now. I'm sure all of us are aware on some level. It seems like there's a confluence of events. What we see is that police officers appear to be shooting African American males who are unarmed. Okay, this evokes a strong response across our country. The first thing I want to say is most peace officers, police officers, I believe are truly good people just doing their jobs. I mean they're all innocent, even the ones that are acting out crazy. Right? But most are doing their jobs the best they can. They're good people. They wanted to go into civil service to protect us, to serve us, and all those things. But clearly there is something going wrong. And clearly we're being shown this on our big grand projection that is the world. Something's not right. I actually think it's a great opportunity for healing, even though there are personal tragedies that are taking place. The families of Michael Brown, of Eric Garner, these police officers who are involved in these situations, for all of them I think these are tragedies that are happening and for their families and connected ones. The miracle that I see that's taking place is that people are recognizing injustice.
There have been demonstrations all across the country. And you know what? I think any time that people are willing to interrupt their lives and go out in the streets and peacefully demonstrate about an injustice, I think that's a miracle. I'm not a lawyer, but if you look at it, there is a lot of fear in our culture, in the United States. We have a lot of fear of authority and we have a lot of fear of the power that our country has. We're enormously powerful in so many ways and in so many aspects of the world. People are saying the way the laws are that protect police officers when they shoot people, maybe that's not such a good way to be. What we are finding out is that, in thousands of instances across this country, when police officers shoot someone in these thousands of instances only eleven times has a grand jury ever brought back an indictment against these police officers — thousands of instances, eleven indictments. If you were to tell me twenty percent, or fifteen percent, okay then I might say, "Oh yeah. Okay." Maybe it should be twenty-five pecent? I don't know, but eleven out of thousands? This doesn't sound right.
Something seems off a little bit there. And remember an indictment doesn't mean they are ever convicted. It just means it goes to a jury. I think the fact that the Obama administration and Eric Holder, the Attorney General, are challenging these laws and challenging these perceptions is a really good thing. We have to forgive our fear. I think that's a big part of flipping the script.
Another part of it, step four, is praying for guidance. We all have different ways of praying for guidance and A Course In Miracles in many different places talks about getting guidance, right? For some of us, we ask and we get guidance right away. Boom, boom, boom. You're at the grocery store. The guy in front of you is annoying you. The check out person is holding you up — blah, blah, blah. You ask for guidance, for a change in perception, and you get it. Great.
But for others, and this would include myself a lot of times, my guidance comes to me at different times in the day. I'll be sitting there driving in the car and I get this thought, all of a sudden. The thought is not even related to what I've been thinking about, but it is something that I had asked about before. For me it's like an intuitive thought that comes from outside myself, that's for sure. Oh — not really "outside," but it feels as if it is, right? So that's how it can work for me. That's a big part of getting guidance for me.
Step five is acting upon our guidance and for myself that is often times the most challenging part. I really like the part where I can sit in my chair and spend time with Holy Spirit and get into a meditation. However, when I get the guidance sometimes I have to move towards a challenge. That could be a little scary. I bet that you know these folks who are going out and peacefully demonstrating are a little scared. I'm sure there is frustration, but I bet there's a little bit of fear. I bet you there is a little bit of concern because, if you watched on TV you know some of our police departments across the country are now really well armed. They look kind of like the military. They've got these big tanks. What are they? Police departments have got armored personnel carriers and all this military kind of stuff. These demonstrators definitely have some fear.
I had some fear and concern about parents that I work with because they are always implying law suits. It's kind of funny because I'm actually not going to get sued. If anybody gets sued it's the district that is going to get sued. However it's all happening at my workplace. My co-workers and I are all being driven by thoughts like, "Oh my God, they could sue us. We have to do this because if not, they're going to sue us." It's just so arduous being before a cross examination. The teachers and administrators are all talking about this at school. It comes back to flipping the script. It comes back to asking for the miracle and it comes back to asking for guidance.
What I really want to say today is that any time that we're experiencing the ego, we have an opportunity to flip the script. We must do what it says in A Course In Miracles, approach everything in our lives with that constant purpose and know that in every moment, in every situation we're confronted with, if that constant purpose is to bring love, to bring the miracle, to bring forgiveness, then the ups and downs of our egos will lessen and we'll be able to experience the script that was intended for all of us. ♥
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This article appeared in the January 2015 (Vol. 28 No. 11) issue of Miracles Monthly. Miracles Monthly is published by Community Miracles Center in San Francisco, CA. CMC is supported solely by people just like you who: become CMC Supporting Members, Give Donations and Purchase Books and Products through us.