The Authority Problem

By Anthony Gold

The police had me cornered.

One patrol car blocked me in from the rear, and another parked perpendicular to my car’s front bumper preventing any means of escape.

Lights were flashing, people nearby were scurrying away from the commotion, and others looked on from a distance wondering what heinous crime had unfolded.

I had no intention of attempting a getaway, but my heart was racing as events unfolded. I was ordered to stay in my car and not make a move. What was happening to me?

This standoff lasted for thirty minutes until a third police car rushed up alongside my vehicle. A female detective stepped out of the car and commanded me to step out of mine.

She eyed me head-to-toe and then back again, turned to the other police officers and stated, “It isn’t him … he’s too short.”

Apparently an ice-pick murderer had been on the loose, and I matched his description – except I wasn’t as tall.

And thus ended a terrifying moment in which visions of interrogation rooms and prison incarceration dominated my thoughts.

But as I reflected upon the encounter, I wondered why I was so frightened. I knew I hadn’t done anything wrong – yet my hands were sweaty, pulse rate high, breathing shallow, and swept by tremendous anxiety.

Somehow I felt guilty – but of a crime for which I was unaware. I had created a mental image of authority (the police) being the enforcers of justice – relentlessly pursuing, capturing, and judging me – the recalcitrant criminal.

The idea that perhaps it was a case of mistaken identity had never crossed my mind. Instead, I created a story that I must have done something wrong that warranted my capture and that very soon I would learn my fate.

Not for a moment did I think this would result in a laughable narrative. The seriousness and gravity of the situation held me in the grip of fear.

Now consider the “story” we’ve learned about God. He gets angry when his children violate his wishes, he causes certain people to be destroyed, he sometimes bestows blessings on his favorite ones, and eventually he will decide our fate. This is the god of love?

How could we not be fearful of such capricious, vengeful authority? How could we not perceive love as a conditional, tenuous arrangement that serves to bind possession and attachment?

But what if we’re wrong?

What if there was no crime? What if it’s just a (horror) story we made up? What if it was something so silly that is deserving of laughter, not fear?

Into eternity, where all is one, there crept a tiny, mad idea, at which the Son of God remembered not to laugh. In his forgetting did the thought become a serious idea. (T-27.VIII.6)

From the wrong-minded thought system of the ego, we’ve created an image of God that is terrifying. While he may purport to love his children, it is certainly conditional. And in one religious point of view, God needed one of his children to be murdered in order to appease his wrath.

But that certainly isn’t the true God of infinite, eternal love. From the right-minded realm of spirit, love isn’t capable of anything but further extension of love. No judgment, no sin, and surely no vengeance.

There is either a god of fear or One of Love. (M-27.4)

The “authority problem” manifests when we choose the ego thought system as our guide. Guilt and fear reign supreme. But we can make a different choice.

Together, we can laugh [this mad idea] away and understand that nothing can intrude upon eternity. (T-27.VIII.6)

Choosing the right-minded thought system of oneness and love, we experience a state of incredible bliss with no fear. We realize we made up a story of sin, guilt, judgment, and punishment. And once we discern the fictitious tale, we can gently smile and laugh it away.

Join us in Monday’s class where we’ll explore the root of all fear and how we can practice choosing against such maladaptive behavior. I look forward to seeing you then.

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