Wednesday, March 19, 2014

5 Keys - How to Live in Mayberry Today (3/5)

The Andy Griffith Show came on the scene in the 1960 - the beginning a decade marked by wars, civil liberty disputes, assassinations... It was not a peaceful time, but this show reminded people then, as it does now in reruns, of a simpler age and a better way of life. Wouldn't it be great if we could somehow turn back the hands of time and live in a world like Mayberry?

Well, I believe you can bring some of the magic of Mayberry into your world today, if you're willing to simply live by a few principles that were modeled for us on the show. A couple days ago, I told you that the first key to all this is to learn to Live with Grace. Then, yesterday, I said the second key is to Value Other People.

Today, I'll explore the third key...

3. Seek Peace with Others

We live in a world that’s filled with a lot of anger and bitterness and hate. People seem willing to go to court or to start a fight whenever anyone even makes the slightest mistake. Congress has become so polarized on both sides that they can’t get anything done without first playing their game of “political chicken” to see how close to the edge they can take us before we go over the ledge. Issues like racism, abortion and the same-sex marriage debate continue to divide the American people. But if we truly want to live in Mayberry, then we have to learn to seek peace with others.

For instance, take the case of Otis Campbell, the town drunk. Mayberry was supposed to be a dry county, yet every weekend, somehow, Otis found some moonshine somewhere and drank until he could barely walk. Then he staggered down to the jail and locked himself up. Now, most folks in Mayberry thought it was wrong – Andy and Barney would uphold the law and smash a still if they found it, and Barney and others tried more than once to rehabilitate Otis – but Otis refused to change his ways. He continued to drink even though his loved ones tried to stop him. He continued to drink even though he was ashamed to admit his lifestyle to out-of-town relatives. He continued to drink even though it meant being locked up every weekend, and despite the best efforts of others to change him. Andy and others never approved of Otis’ behaviors, but at the same time, you also never heard Andy saying judgmental things about Otis, either. Andy and Barney considered Otis to be their friend – so much so that when Otis had his feelings hurt after one of Barney went too far, the duo even went to Mount Pilot to find Otis and beg him to come home! Aunt Bee said in one episode that she was praying for Otis to resist his temptations, yet the way she said it showed that she did this from a place of compassion, not condemnation, and Otis appears to understand this completely. Seeking peace with others doesn’t mean you have to accept what they’re doing as right, but it does often mean you have to be tolerant enough to let them live their lives and make their own choices.

That doesn’t mean there’s no penalty when someone does the wrong thing – Otis still had to go to jail when he was drunk – but seeking peace means sometimes you have to let people make their own mistakes. That also doesn’t mean you stop caring for someone who doesn’t act the way you think they should – Andy and others tried their best to help Otis change his life – but it does mean that you continue to be patient and loving, even when that person refuses to be helped or refuses to change. Seeking peace takes a lot of love and patience, and the ability to let go.

The same lesson is frequently reinforced, as we see how Andy is often willing to give people the benefit of a doubt. We also see it in Mayberry’s acceptance of other cultures and races. The Taylors are friendly and welcoming to people like Malcolm Merriweather, the Englishman, even though he has a very different idea of how to do things. Everyone in town is excited for the grand opening of the restaurant run by Aunt Bee and her Chinese business partner. All the kids are excited when a pro comes to coach their football team, and no one has a problem at all with the fact he's black. Never do Mayberry’s citizens try to tell people they don’t belong. Never do they use hate speech or violence to get rid of “undesirables”. They only seek to live peacefully with those who come their way, no matter what!

Better to have no gun at all
than to have a gun and misuse it
Non-violence as a means of seeking peace is also emphasized by the fact that Andy almost never carries a gun (and Barney only gets to have one bullet - in his pocket!). Andy believes most conflicts can be solved without the use of a firearm, and he proves this to be true more than once. We see it, for instance, when Andy outsmarts the escaped convict in the “Manhunt” episode, or when he's willing to meet the ex-con who wants to “settle the score” in the episode, “High Noon in Mayberry”. In that episode, Andy actually picks up a gun and thinks about loading it before putting it away again. His desire for peace leads him to show faith in other people, and he believes this faith will be noticed and respected by others more often than not. Andy explains his ideology in the episode, “TV or Not TV,” like this:
“When a man carries a gun all the time, the respect he thinks he’s getting might really be fear, so I don’t carry a gun because I don’t want the people of Mayberry to fear a gun – I’d rather they would respect me.”
That doesn’t mean Andy is completely unwilling to use a gun when the situation calls for it. More than once, we see him taking a rifle down from the rack when it’s time to go after a dangerous criminal, but those cases are the exception rather than the rule. There may be emergency situations when you need to defend yourself, but Andy’s message is that we ought never to start a fight, violence should always be a last resort, and we ought to be known as people who prefer to live in peace. By doing this, we show respect for others, and we will earn their respect, more often than not.

Of course, disputes still arise - we wouldn't have much of a show if they never did! - but Andy and others show us that when you make it a priority to live with grace, value other people and seek peace with others, these three keys will help you to resolve many issues before they get too far out of hand!

Now that you have these three, we can add the fourth key, so...

CLICK HERE to see what it is!

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Please comment on this post. Do you agree with me? Do you disagree? Is there something I left out or should have covered? Was something confusing? I want to know what you think!