Who is Ann Landers, you ask? Once upon a time, in a far away land, there were two sisters, known as Dear Abby and Ann Landers. Today, there are several media hyped personalities that attempt to imitate the originals. Both acted as counselors to our culture; blunt and to the point. I am not really sure if either one of them actually coined the phrase MYOB, but they made it popular.
We also read in the final chapter of the Gospel, according to John, these words: “Turning his head, Peter noticed the disciple Jesus loved following right behind. When Peter noticed I’m, he asked Jesus, “Master, what’s going to happen to him?” Jesus said, “If I want him to live until I come again, what’s that to you? You – follow me.” That is how the rumor got out among the brothers that this disciple wouldn’t die. But that is not what Jesus said. He simply said, “If I want him to live until I come again, what’s that to you?” In other words, mind your own business.
M.Y.O.B. – Mind your own business – you have enough to worry about without attempting to make everyone else over into your illusion of perfection. Do what you need to do and don’t spend all of your time and energy judging others. Love one another – and leave the judging to God. A very interesting teaching and very difficult to follow for all of us. We look around and judge others and fine them not measuring up to the standards that we have set for them. We also read in the Scriptures: “Don’t worry about the splinter in your brothers eye while you have a 2 x 4 in your own eye.”
Historically, we observe churches, nations, cultures and individuals judging others and deciding to try to make them over. Sadly, we make these efforts so often by imposing violent actions in order to make them comply. We convince ourselves that they really want to be just like us and if we topple their government, then the people will flock to imitate our pattern of behavior. They are really jealous and afraid of us, so we are forced to intimidate and impose our ways on them by force. In our own culture, we see the evidence of this in our historical treatment of Native Americans and African Slaves that were imported into this land of the free. We establish a mythical model and make every effort to impose this on others, failing to recognize the incongruity of our actions. Over the centuries, all religions have attempted the same; by war, intimidation, burning at the stake, excluding and a wide variety of violent actions, working to impose our true religion or nation on others. These efforts have been there from the beginning; and are world wide and not restricted to one or the other. Somehow, diversity of opinions or living is found threatening to us. Conservatives vilify liberals and vice versa; Christians vilify Jews and those of the Islamic faith; Hindus go after Christians and so on and so on. We people decide that there are certain levels of behavior that are unacceptable and fail to just Mind Your Own Business.
Now, in saying this, it is necessary to make some distinctions. Love your neighbor requires that we feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, provide opportunities for health care, housing and life for all; not just for the few. We are required to challenge those in positions of power who serve only those like themselves and ignore and push others away acting as bullies. We are required to stand up to the bullies. It is also in recognizing our call to be life for others – does not require us to act as “helicopter parents”, protecting others from all harm. Life is demanding and requires much of us, especially the ability to be risk takers. If we are always afraid that if someone else gets their Red Ryder BB gun, they will put their eyes out; or if they climb a tree, they will fall and break a bone, then we are not allowing others to grow and learn how to meet the challenges that they will face; they will be worrying too much about everybody else and judging and condemning them.
MYOB is a very wise saying; recommending that we allow others to be who they are called to be, and paying attention to who we are called to be ourselves. We are not called to be some one else’s keeper, but we are called to be their brother and/or sister, walking with them. Love requires patience with ourselves first of all and allowing God to be God. It is impossible to understand what makes others tick. We have not walked in their shoes. We can disagree without condemning; we can hold on to what we believe without being threatened by what others believe. We can step in and help when we observe someone in special need; When others are bullied; threatened or intimidated, it is good to say “No More!” Love requires us to understand that all of creation; all of humanity is connected and that we are all a work in process; we are not finished and we need each other to walk together. We also need to find opportunities to laugh; especially and first of all – at ourselves and our own circumstances. Laughter helps to bring the issue down to a reasonable and workable level. We recognize that we are all absurd and that we are all struggling together to become.