suspending judgement indefinitely

Posted in opinion on February 23rd, 2010 by george

I’m as guilty as anyone of making ill considered judgements about people. I tell myself its a human weakness, but that’s a cop out. The truth is I’m guilty of allowing fleeting impressions, assumptions and imagination to make up for the lack of evidence. Someone will say something, or do something, or even just appear to be a certain way that sits uncomfortably with my expectations, and without a thought to where they are coming from, or what pressure they may be under at that moment, I paint them into a corner. “That’s what you’re like, and that’s that.” And there goes any chance of getting to know that person.

There is a distinction between judging actions, and judging the person who performed them based on those actions. Therein lies the hypocrisy. From time to time we all behave in ways we subsequently regret. We have little trouble making light of our own shortcomings,  so why is it that much more difficult to cut others the same slack?

We are most inclined to judge those about whom we know the least. When we truly love someone, not only do we admire and revere them, and delight in their company, but we also forgive them for their weaknesses, which we recognise as being not unlike our own.

As we get to know people better, we are less and less inclined to pass judgement, and eventually we are obliged to suspend judgement indefinitely.

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true heroes

Posted in opinion on February 18th, 2010 by george

‘real heroes take no credit…they do their thing and move on’ I remember reading something along these lines in the Tao Te Ching years ago, and thinking, ‘that sounds right!’

When speaking of heroes, often our first thought is of soldiers and battle. Warriors overcome their natural fear, risking and often losing their lives for the greater good. When we hear such accounts of supreme courage, and the ultimate sacrifice, we are humbled indeed. ‘Greater love hath no man…..’ Faced with such choices, how would we respond? Read more »

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the day after Mardi Gras

Posted in opinion on February 17th, 2010 by george

Today is Ash Wednesday, the 1st day of Lent. For the next 40 days, Christians, as best they can, turn their backs on earthly delights and renew their commitment to God. Traditionally they give up something they enjoy, and take up something that may be of service to others. Each in their own way make sacrifices.

It is in anticipation of this behaviour, that the carnival ethic of Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, and so on has evolved. Christians around the world have relished the last chance to sing and dance and make merry, before the 40 days of fasting and abstinence begin.

Much like Christmas, Mardi Gras has been taken to heart by secular society, as another opportunity for revelry and excess. As usual they are eager to join in any celebration, but baulk at the idea of personal sacrifice. Where’s the fun in that? It is impossible for a non-believer to understand the joy the faithful experience in the performance of their Christian duties. Still, as at Christmas, I feel compelled to encourage everyone to at least consider the origins of the traditional celebrations they so heartily embrace.

No matter what we believe, most of us can own up to falling a little short in the human kindness department. That in particular is what I hope to work on and improve in myself this Lent.

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a certain amount of truth

Posted in opinion on February 5th, 2010 by george

Through the ages, the word and the notion, truth, has been the subject of conjecture, debate, and reams of written opinion and discourse. I don’t pretend to have anything startlingly new to add. But the phrase which is the title of this post, and what it suggests, has always disturbed me.

One of the dictionary definitions of certain is, ‘some though not much‘. For some reason, this is the meaning I assume to be in use in the phrase. In which case, ‘a certain amount of truth’ is a convoluted way of saying something is mostly a pack of lies!

My instinctive response when encountering this phrase has always been, “Well either its true, or it isn’t.” But truth isn’t  necessarily such an absolute. In the material world it often is. A pint of beer, a dozen eggs, dawn, winter…There’s no denying these things. They just are. A pint of beer is a very certain amount of truth. As in sure, finite…

However in the realm of ideas, philosophy, metaphysics and such, there seem as many degrees of truth as there are colours in the spectrum. Perhaps it is something to do with the nature of words, which ultimately fail us when we try to convey our insights to others. Music or pictures often do a better job. But at best, even they allow only momentary glimpses of something we yearn to know better. And that something we suspect is truth, or at least part of it.

‘A certain amount of truth’ sounds like a kind of seasoning that one might add to one’s reality or perception of it. Enough would make it truthful, but anything less would not.

If we are spicing our lives in this way, let us serve generous helpings!

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