Millions have read Florence Shinn’s classic 1925 advice book, The Game of Life and How to Play It. She was a Christian, so she saw the world in terms of spiritual laws. She begins the book with the most important law:
“…whatever man sends out in word or deed, will return to him; what he gives, he will receive. If he gives hate, he will receive hate; if he gives love, he will receive love; if he gives criticism, he will receive criticism; if he lies he will be lied to; if he cheats, he will be cheated.”
Florence credits Jesus, who said, “Whatsoever a man sows that shall he also reap.”
Maybe you think that this is a spiritual law given by God to guide and test us.
Or, as I do, maybe you understand this as a psychological truth about the dynamics we create with every one of our thoughts and actions.
It’s clear that whatever we put out returns to us, but we have trouble knowing and remembering that fundamental truth. This obvious lesson eludes a large proportion of the human species, so we continue to pursue our careless and cruel behaviors as if those actions have no price.
Because we continue to put our species in real jeopardy, the lesson of giving and receiving must be amplified and broadcast powerfully all over the earth so we can wake up.
That’s where Donald Trump comes in. He is demonstrating to the world’s population how ugly we become when we don’t understand the law of sowing and reaping.
We ignore the obvious
I think I understand and apply the law of reaping what I sow, and yet, as dumb as the next person, I sometimes put out negative thoughts and actions that boomerang on me.
An example: For decades I’ve been criticizing residents of gated communities. I’ve spent my adult life advocating for people in poverty, and I hate the idea of rich people protecting themselves behind fences and guards.
Then a gated community was built adjoining my property. I immediately told my friends that there is something wrong with rich people: they’re oblivious, I sarcastically joked, as they hide behind their pathetic protections.
In reference to my new gilded neighbors, I liked to quote a line from Robert Frost’s poem “Mending Wall” to my dinner guests: “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall, that wants it down.”
I self-righteously postured that there is something very lacking in people who won’t let poor people drive by their expensive houses.
But a few years later, when the gated community offered gym memberships temporarily to neighbors, I bought one. I was aware of the contradictions, believe me, but going six blocks to get a workout rather than an hour round trip to a gym in town seemed sensible.
For four years I enjoyed my access to a wonderful gym, but my ego did not love my trip through the gate several times a week, showing my credentials to the usually friendly guards, whom I nevertheless characterized to my friends (humorously, I supposed) as nazi bastards.
I had my cake and ate it too.
Until I got a letter recently kicking me out.
Neighbors are no longer welcome in the facility unless we’re willing to pay a mind-boggling membership fee and then pay additional monthly fees and charges.
I was rejected. Surprise?
Enjoying my gym and other privileges for several years, I also enjoyed criticizing the people who built and ran the community, the people who purchased lots and built homes, and the modestly paid guards who opened the gate to me.
I put out rejection and I was rejected.
How perfect is the law of giving and receiving.
The law of giving and receiving gets global attention
We’ve always had clear lessons presented to us about the law of giving and receiving. Our parents may have told us that what we put out comes back. Or we got the lessons from our religion. We may have had to learn about it in therapy or through painful experiences like divorce, job loss, or illness.
But our species still gets only a D+ in understanding the law.
We needed Donald Trump to give everyone a major lesson every day through the global media.
He dramatically—on the biggest of stages—demonstrates that everything a person puts out comes back to him:
- Trump claimed that President Obama citizenship and presidency were illegitimate: Trump’s legitimacy as President is being widely questioned. In reaction, he angrily defends his legitimacy—as if he never heard of the law of sowing and reaping.
- Trump claimed that the Obama administration was led by ill-prepared, stupid, and incompetent officials: Trump is now facing daily fusillades of analysis about the ill-prepared and incompetent leaders he has chosen for his team.
- Trump has attacked the foreign policy of past presidents, claiming that they have ruined our national reputation and endangered our national security: with his presidency only three weeks underway, global leaders worry that Trump is undermining America’s basic values and fear that he is endangering world security.
- Trump has accused others of cheating, lying, and breaking the law: Trump has been and continues to be accused of cheating, lying and breaking the law.
The world is getting yet another lesson in giving and receiving. Many may reject the lesson; many will not even notice. As long as our species refuses to love, I assume our lessons will get more and more dramatic and forceful.
We can predict the future
If everything we put out inevitably comes back, we can predict the future. As Florence Shinn says, for instance, if you love the people in your life, you will be loved. We can’t predict how that will happen or in what time period. But we can predict the ultimate result.
If you do harm to others, we can predict with certainty that you will be harmed. It may take a while, but you will not only be harmed but harmed in like degree. You won’t be harmed more or less than you have been harmed.
If I love a little, I will be loved a little. If I embrace all of life, all of life will embrace me.
If I reject rich people, rich people will reject me.
So, we can predict people’s fate merely by observing what they put out.
We don’t have to hope that tyrants will be punished. No one escapes, so we can be patient about the tyrants in our life: they will get their due without any action on our part.
All of Trump’s negatives are returning to him and will continue to return to him.
Trump claimed during the election process that his opponents were physically weak and ill—unable to muster the energy for the job of President: can we guess what will happen to Trump in the future?
Oh, oh, you may be thinking: are you wishing Trump ill? This sounds dangerous.
No, I’m simply looking and listening. Either we have a law here or we don’t. Either nothing escapes the law, or some things escape the law. If some actions escape the law, we have no law.
The law of giving and receiving applies to all of us. If I attack others, claiming falsely that they are too ill to function, I had better be ready to have some serious health problems.
Will the Trump supporters who cheer at his cruelties, his aggression, and his promises to bomb and kill, find these elements harming their own lives?
There is a way out
We can learn to play the game of life and its simple rules. If we have built up a lot of karma, a lot of unresolved issues through our unconscious thinking and behavior, we can halt all future boomerangs. We don’t have to pay forever.
A parallel law to the law of giving and receiving is the law of forgiveness. We can halt the boomerang of our negative thinking and behavior with the law of forgiveness.
When we finally see how our negative behaviors are harming others, we need only regret what we have done and make amends.
That was part of the genius of Jesus’ teaching: ask for forgiveness and you will be set free—permanently.
To all of all of you guards at the gated community, to all of you home owners there that I have ridiculed, to the managers of the club who pushed me out, I apologize. It was my ego, pretending to be funny, and now I make amends. You are all in my love’s embrace now, and I plan to keep you there.