It is not only our hatred of others that is dangerous but also and above all our hatred of ourselves: particularly that hatred of ourselves which is too deep and too powerful to be consciously faced. For it is this which makes us see our own evil in others and unable to see it in ourselves.
Perhaps we still have a basically superstitious tendency to associate failure with dishonesty and guilt – failure being interpreted as “punishment.” Even if a man starts out with good intentions, if he fails we tend to think he was somehow “at fault.” If he was not guilty, he was at least “wrong.” And “being wrong” is something we have not yet learned to face with equanimity and understanding. We either condemn it with god-like disdain or forgive it with god-like condescension. We do not manage to accept it with human compassion, humility and identification.
Thus we never see the one truth that would help us begin to solve our ethical and political problems: that we are all more or less wrong, that we are all at fault, all limited and obstructed by our mixed motives, our self-deception, our greed, our self-righteousness and our tendency to aggressivity and hypocrisy.
-Thomas Merton, ‘New Seeds of Contemplation’
I get extremely irked and annoyed when I see other people passing judgment on others and/or ‘forgiving with god-like condescension’ while seemingly miraculously oblivious to their own greater blindness. Very, very irked. Very, very annoyed. It is even worse when I am the subject of such judgment and or condescension.
But there has been a growing awareness within me in recent weeks. Whenever I get irked, I ask myself if I am not myself doing the very same thing to others. And the answer is always yes, I am. It is so easy to analyze and judge the sins of another person and label that person a hopeless sinner, and then to ‘forgive’ that person while treating him or her like someone that doesn’t actually deserve that forgiveness. Thus, when I ‘forgive’, I see the other as undeserving, and I as the ‘better person’. I know that is NOT compassion.
I am also much more aware now that my inability to be understanding and compassionate to others’ faults lie in my own self-rejection and self-hatred. I never used to be aware that I had self-hatred, but I realize now how important it is to realize just how insecure I am and how that is holding me back from being compassionate.
It really isn’t easy, but I’ve been trying to remind myself each time I get riled up by another person’s flaws to turn my attention inwards. Regardless of how right or wrong others are, there is always something in me I can grow to accept, and in learning to accept in me, I can also accept with understanding and compassion in others.
Underneath all the screwed up things that we do to one another, we are all essentially the same. We are lonely, hesitant and insecure people, trying to grasp assurance of our worth in different and often misguided ways. Yes, we must all take responsibility for our actions. But it is just as essential to recognize how much of our liberty to act has been lost due to fear and sin.
Lord, help me each day to look upon my brothers and sisters and to see the child You love in them. Let me never use justice as an excuse to judge another. Do what You will to make me compassionate so that I can belong to You more each day. Amen.
hi ya girl..
“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.” – Eph 4:15
An impt lesson i learnt is to understand the true meaning of “speaking the TRUTH, in LOVE”.. both components are vital.. in building up a person, growing and developing a person..in love. I realised that i have many times spoken the truth no doubt, but in anger, vindication, bitterness, pride, frustration.. etc anything, but, love.
I couldn’t agree more about this. :) I believe it, I’ve said the same thing to others, but it is indeed a very challenging thing to live up to!
hahah yeah..i just had to apologize to a brother that i’d done that to for the last 4 years … God highlighted it on my trip to GZ :)
I’m glad to hear that! Our God is truly wonderful!
Just some more rambling thoughts here about my post.
I know some people who seem to know only how to speak truth in a destructive way… in a way that hurts, wounds and makes the other feel guilty and worthless. I feel appalled by how much harm they do to each other, but they seem to believe they do not do wrong in that because they ‘speak truth’ even when what they build their stand on is only partial truths (which can be even more dangerous than untruths because it seems right). It frustrates and shocks me that people can’t see how much destruction they wreak in others’ lives by doing that.
The specific problem for me that prompted this post was that I can get so hung up over the wrong that other people do… even if it isn’t to me. Of course it is even worse when it is done to me. It bugs me how blind others can be to the log in their own eyes while self-righteously pointing out the sand in someone else’s eye.
You know how passionately I feel about things, especially things that go against my values. I get all prickly and judgmental (even if I manage not to let it affect my outward actions). And it just occurs to me lately how interesting it is that when I get riled up, I am just as blind to the log in my own eye.
Am just reminding myself to be more attentive to the log in my own eye. I believe that as I open myself up more and more to God’s cleansing fire, that I will become less judgmental of my brothers and sisters.