Truth may be vital but without love it is unbearable. from “The Two Popes.”
We can get ourselves into a moral dilemma sometimes. We may find out something that we feel we need to tell someone but it may destroy their world. What to do?
Information is important but so is caring about others. It is just hard to know when to share that information and when not to. What if you know that someone is having an affair and you are friends with the other spouse? To tell or not tell…..that is the question.
There are lots of other moral scenarios where we may be called to judge if telling is worth the harm it can cause. Truth is good but love has to be considered.
With what is going on politically in the US this quote popped into my mind, I may have used it before but it is so appropriate now.
In a time of universal deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act. George Orwell
Yesterday I heard someone talking about the absence of truth in everything we see and read. It is a incredible indictment of how things function in today’s world. If we are smart we have to question everything and IF we are good at research we may find the truth….but there is no guarantee. It is so different from the world I grew up in. I know it wasn’t perfect but the “average” person could be taken at their word. It was not OK to lie. It was not all right to distort the truth until it’s unrecognizable.
It makes me realize that one of the most important things that should be taught in schools is to take nothing at face value but learn to dig for more information. What a thing to have to teach children….that so much of everything is false.
I feel lucky that my first degree was in history which meant I spent a lot of time doing research. I know how to hunt for facts and sniff out exaggerations and falsehoods. That has helped me so much in my life.
I guess I will be passing that on to my great grandchildren now.
We are surrounded by mystery. Though hard for us to accept we don’t have control over many things. We would like to be in control. We yearn to be in control but ultimately we are not.
We prefer to make decisions trusting that they will happen as we planned. We make judgments about right and wrong, about people, about events. We can make quick certain and smug judgments. We are so sure that our way is the right way. We are sure that life will follow the path we have set. We are so wrong.
This inability to accept our powerlessness can make us blind and unwilling to see the truth. We can say “don’t bother me with the truth, I want to be in control.” We see ourselves as all knowing. We cover our heads and stick with own ideas. This action leads to a lack of willingness to see any other way. It makes us unable to have compassion for others and their thoughts and ideas.
We choose not to see our own biases, imperfections and wrongness. We do not look deep inside ourselves to find the “shadow self” who hides there.
There is so much that we do not know or understand. Pat answers lead us nowhere. We have to see the world as it is in all its mystery. We have to be willing to step out into the unknown. We have to face doubt and fear and understand that they are part of life.
We must learn to accept the ambiguous and the anxiety it can cause. To not know the answers is understandable in the world we inhabit. I don’t think we will ever have all the answers and the truth is we don’t have to know.
Today I wrote on my other blog about the erosion of Christianity happening in our society. This erosion is also true in other areas of our lives. We have already lost so much of our moral sense and what behavior is acceptable.
Rudeness and uncaring have become the order of the day. Anger is rampant. We have a society of entitlement and very little else matters.
Our media is violent, making us tolerant of almost any kind of atrocity. The news is biased to the point of the ridiculous. In fact it should not be called news but opinion. Children have to be taught that what they hear and see must be scrutinized carefully to determine its veracity. Most of them accept what they see and hear as true.
Our government is corrupt and careless of their behavior but quick to accuse opponents of the exact same thing. Hollywood idols lead youth into imitating their behavior.
The frightening thing is what to do. How do we turn things around and bring sanity and moral fibre (moral fibre (Britain) The inner strength to do what one believes to be right; often an ability to make difficult decisions.) back to our country? I wish I had an answer. Yet, I am one and I will continue to make my voice heard whether heeded or not. That is all that there is.
My life is my message. Mahatma Gandhi
Isn’t this the perfect way to be! His life was his message. So was the life of Martin Luther King Jr., Martin Luther, Mother Theresa and many others. We don’t have to end up being famous but wouldn’t you love someone to put that on your tombstone. I would!!
Why do people say terrible things! Why would a nurse in a doctor’s office say to a patient “we don’t know what is wrong with you. You may have cancer?” If it really happened that sent someone on their way in a panic.
I don’t know whether the above story is true or not but that is my point. We hear stories every day about other people and we have no idea how far they are away from the original. It may have floated through 20 people and been changed by every one.
Gossip. It can be a killer. It may start out as a fact but it really can evolve as it goes. I heard that a husband and wife were very sick. His illness was not specified but it was told that she had serious cancer. Both were on their death beds. On checking facts I discovered that she did in fact have cancer but is finished with treatment and doing well. He has a problem that he has had for a while and things are no different.
A friend’s son is going through a divorce and I’m sure by now he has been tarred and feathered and run out of town.
Why do we enjoy passing on things told to us? Is it because we can gloat that we are not in the same predicament? Does it make us feel better?
The answer is both are true. There is something so fiendishly fun gossiping about someone else’s misery. We are not sick, not evil, not in trouble like them. We can walk away with a smile leaving the trash talk behind. And on the story goes on changing with each telling.
My father used to say “put your brain in gear before you put you mouth in motion.” A wise saying. We need to think about the pain our actions can cause. At a new kind of mediation I observed recently the leader said “think about the ABC’s. Action, Behavior, Consequences.” Every one of us needs to think about that. Words can hurt, words can kill, words can ruin someone’s life.
Be careful what you pass on.
What we are taught from childhood on is what carves us into the people we are now. Children absorb not only what they are told but also what they see. Their world is their home and family. What happens there sets the path.
Have we been teaching children to think only of themselves?
Have we taught intolerance?
Have we taught hatred?
Have we belittled them?
Or have we taught love?
Education is not just what we learn in school. That is important and the more we learn the more we can understand about the world around us. The more we learn about the lives of others the less likely we are to be intolerant. However, learning in early childhood is crucial.
Every kind of education is necessary to make the world a better place. We must help families to teach their children well. We need to marry what we learn at home with what we learn of the world. The more knowledge the better. Never stop learning.
This morning the pastor at our church said in her sermon…spoken to God….“Let me not confine you in the narrowness of my mind.” This is a very profound statement.
Whatever your belief, if you espouse any God, this tells us where most of us want to be. We want a God who is like us. We want to create God in our image instead of the other way around. We want a God who thinks like us. We want a manageable God.
If God is like us then God has the same bias, the same prejudice and the same belief system. Then it is easy for me to point fingers at others and scoff at their beliefs. It allows me to pick and choose what God thinks. Aren’t I amazing?
This God can occupy a nice closed box in my mind and I will only let out what I deem appropriate. However, God is tricky and sneaks out of the box in and plants ideas that I don’t want to consider. He/she is constantly challenging me and widening my mind, calling me on prejudices and making me rethink my ideas.
It is abundantly clear to me that however much I could live with God in a box that is not going to happen. And in reality it would not be something I want.
I see a God who is infinite and intimate. I see a God whose mind I cannot comprehend. I see a God whose thoughts are so far above mine that the universe can’t contain them. Maybe this is not at all comfortable but this, for me, is God.
“Until you dig deep you only know a small part of the human heart.” Another quote from “Tea Time for the Traditionally Built” By Alexander McCall Smith. His books about Botswana have much wisdom in them.
We can’t know everyone really well. It’s not possible. In most cases we don’t even try to. We only see the outside…the piece that people show to us. Too often we all are wearing masks and don’t want to let anyone in. It is difficult to get beyond the mask. Sometimes we can’t.
Sometimes there are people who drive us crazy…people who get on our last nerve. We can hardly bear to be around them. Then someone tells us that they spend all their time caring for a mother with Alzheimer’s. And lo! we realize that the person who seemed so awful to us was too stressed, anxious and tired to be nice.
We had to dig deep to find out what it is like where the heart lives. We have to be willing to be the caring person. We have to open ourselves to the idea that there may be something in their life to explain how they act.
I have met a lot of people in my life. Some of them I never wanted to see again. I may have been right about some but I also may have been wrong. I didn’t take the time to find out. I hope someone else did.
Today I read my daily meditation from Richard Rohr. In it he said “At their immature levels, religions can be obsessed with the differences that make them better or more right than others.”
I have found this to be true in my own life. As I have said before I was raised Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran and Baptist. It didn’t take me long to decide that since each one was a little different in perspective that none of them could be completely right. I honor that eclectic background as it made me have lots of questions and be open to differing answers.
I hope I don’t offend anyone with this story but it was something that gave me pause as a child.
I attended a Baptist church with my best friend off and on. Each week they had an altar call and people went to the front rail to profess their belief and “be saved.” After a while I noticed that there were some people who went to the rail each week. This raised the question for me “can you be saved more than once and what exactly does it mean?” I must have been about ten or eleven when I was struck by this.
Other incidents in the various churches brought questions to my mind and formed my early theology. It made me very clear on one point. There is a lot more that connects us than divides us. We often make a big fuss about the differences and forget that as we are all Christian we should be united under the same God.
To take this thought one step further in college I had the opportunity to study other religions in depth and I found that some of them accepted the same deep principles that my faith has. Again I was broadened by the idea.
I wish that we could all concentrate on the things that make us alike instead of the things that separate us. I wish that each faith and denomination could see the big picture instead of the tiny details. Our world would be so much better.