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Monday, June 14, 2004

 

Conflicting opinions

Recently I have heard two types of opinions of my behavior in this particular trek.
One seems to be that the idea is blind, heedless, suicidal folly, running away from rather than facing my problems, and that it manifests a critical and coldhearted disregard of those who really do care for me.
The other seems to be that I am an intelligent, kind person, that this is a courageous and even somewhat enviable adventure: I'm doing the best I can in an imperfect world, and that I have every right to make my own decisions on the best to live my life.

I am reminded of an exercise in one of my High School texts, "Language in Thought and Action", by S.I. Hayakawa. It's not original with him, but I don't have the source ready. The "Conjugation of an irregular verb" follows the pattern:

I am determined. You are obstinate. He is a stubborn, pigheaded fool.
I am courageus. You are foolhardy. He is a suicidal maniac.
I am sensitive. You are too easily offended. He is a crybaby.
I am prudent. You are timid. He is a coward.
I am deliberate. You are a slowpoke. He is lazy.
I am open-minded. You are wishy-washy. His moral compass is a weathervane.
I sometimes make mistakes. You are a sinner. He is a criminal.
I am intelligent enough to see the merits and demerits of a proposal, especially when the same one has been presented by umpteen different people. You jump to conclusions without giving other people a full hearing. He won't listen to anyone.

I could create other examples, but these will do. We all like to think well of ourselves and prefer the company of others who speak well of us; who pay attention to us and do not disagree with everything we say or find fault with everything we do. But how do we know what either friends or critics say of us is accurate, and whether to heed or ignore it? In particular, how do I evaluate what is said of me?
To vary the words of a popular song, "You can't please everyone, so you have to please..." God. I'm not qualified to judge how well I do that, but I do give it some attention from time to time.
Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address has words to express my intentions: "With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives [me] to see the right..."


Comments:
Testing...
 
Left or Right, East or West, Chocolate or Vanilla - very rarely are real-life decisions black or white. The dividing line of gray is as big as your moral convictions.

Dividing opinions into one camp or the other simplifies the process, but (like lossy compression) important bits maybe left out in doing so.

You are on the road you are on (no pun intended) because of the choices you have made (or decided not to make). Hopefully, it will take you where you want to go.


Good luck.
 
While I was trying to keep dry last night, I was pondering that very thing: I'm here and not somewhere else because my own decisions and choices have put me here. Often, many small decisions, each barely significant by itself and added to circumstances we cannot change, collectively add up to a choice we would have never made if it had come by itself. However, it's not possible to retrace one's steps in life: the only way through is forward.
it's easy to find things to criticize in others without looking very hard or very deeply. Indeed, Jesus warned of trying to remove specks from others without seeing our own 4x4 timbers, and it's not healthy to adopt the third-person "conjugations" as correct assumptions about oneself. That way lies despair. Trying to see and bring out the best in people is more of a challenge.
 
While I was trying to keep dry last night, I was pondering that very thing: I'm here and not somewhere else because my own decisions and choices have put me here. Often, many small decisions, each barely significant by itself and added to circumstances we cannot change, collectively add up to a choice we would have never made if it had come by itself. However, it's not possible to retrace one's steps in life: the only way through is forward.
it's easy to find things to criticize in others without looking very hard or very deeply. Indeed, Jesus warned of trying to remove specks from others without seeing our own 4x4 timbers, and it's not healthy to adopt the third-person "conjugations" as correct assumptions about oneself. That way lies despair. Trying to see and bring out the best in people is more of a challenge.
 
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