Brian’s Reflection: Friday, May 1, 2009
It is only imperfection that complains of what is imperfect.
The more perfect we are the more gentle and quiet we
become towards the defects of others.
- Joseph Addison, English essayist, poet & dramatist,
born on this date, 1672
In other words, “What you would like people to appreciate and respect about you, appreciate and respect about them!” Some version of the “Golden Rule” always applies. No wonder some version of it can be found in every point of written moral history.
In this country, we get a LOT of “complaints” from so-called “moral” people about the way we live our lives. Addison’s words remind us that those complaints are coming from imperfect people - for the simple reason that such people are either unaware of, or deliberately suppress, their own often radical imperfection. It is a sure sign of such shallow self-unawareness that the Imperfect cluster together and displace their inability to deal with the reality of themselves onto others. It is called Hypocrisy. Jesus was particularly harsh about Hypocrites, with good reason. Hypocrisy is a sure sign of Ignorance on many levels.
Moral righteousness tends to lead to contempt, judgmentalism, and a lack of Compassion - not surprising, since it stems from a complete lack of self-awareness, of Humility. We know where that leads - to intolerance and to its handmaiden, Callousness.
Are you “gentle and quiet”? I’m asking myself the same question. Because if we aren’t, we have been trapped by our Imperfection. The result can only be alienation, prejudice, discrimination, bigotry. And we know where that leads. Alas, we can experience it all around us these days in American (and other) culture.
There is a phrase in the Gospel that has often confused people: “Be ye perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” “God” is always “gentle and quiet … towards the defects of others”. At least, the “God” who has revealed Herself to me. Why else would the Christian God give of Her Life to make ours possible??
Let us revel in our imperfection. It means we understand both our true selves and the true “God”.