Saturday, November 22, 2008

Humility: The Foundation of Not Reviling

Some thoughts on humility - the characteristic of godliness that I believe is at the heart of being able to avoid reviling:

1) It is interesting what happens when you stop and think about what you are about to say and ask, "Is this a humble way to say this? Am I seeing both sides? Do I understand what the other person really is saying - not just what I automatically assume s/he is saying? Am I reviling the person by saying it this way?"

2) Being poor in spirit does NOT mean never chastising someone for what they have said or done; it does NOT mean never correcting someone when they are wrong. However, it DOES mean not doing so in ALL cases when someone is wrong in what they say or do. It involves carefully weighing the options and offering a comment that is not personal, or emotional, or hyperbolic - that is not directed at a person but rather what that person said or did.

3) I like myself better when I am focusing consciously on humility.

I find it fascinating that the end of Matthew 5, where it admonishes us to not revile, comes full circle back to the beginning admontion to be poor in spirit. Truly, life and progression is one eternal round.


Anonymous said...

On reflection,I wonder if academia gives us permission to be more dismissive of the arguments of others ,there is an expectation of robustness that the hearer may not buy into.I think we disrespect the views of others,the experiences of others,habitually and media portrayal of the lives of others is often either sterreotypical or dismissive.I think it's a difficult age in which to treat each other with respect,and it's got harder for our children-other people and their views become obstacles in our way to be swatted aside .Thankyou for this useful corrective.We have come to revile out of habit.

Papa D said...

"We have come to revile out of habit."

Anonymous, You just nailed one of my primary concerns about our modern society - that we are so reflexively polarizing. It's so easy to stereotype and construct straw man arguments on either side of any issue, and much of our media seems to buy into this practice.

I believe this is at least one of the foundational developments of "the love of many shall wax cold" - not necessarily that people will hate each other, but rather that people will stop listening to each other. I believe not listening often in the first step toward not loving.