When I think of the relationship between what we say and what we do, I’m led to creating three lists.
The first includes what you value. Many would include the following:
- The people you love, including children and grandchildren.
- Good friends.
- The country in which one resides.
- The survival of the planet.
- A republican form of democracy such as the one described in the Constitution of the United States.
- God, the highest value if your faith is strong.
- Kindness to your fellow man.
The above list doesn’t detail every worthwhile principle. I’m assuming you’d create a different set of precepts. I might, too.
The second tabulation should enumerate the actions proving what you just stated as the guidance you use in your life. For example, if you claim to treasure your kids, draw up the best evidence of your behavior in raising them.
This catalog will be longer than the first one because of the descriptions required.
Spend more time creating the third tally than the first two. Take the role of a prosecuting attorney.
Such legal practitioners would attempt to point out the shortcomings in your view of your life. The patterns counter to the doctrines you professed in List #1 will be judged.
All the rationalizations and denials — all the forgotten misdeeds — challenge how you describe yourself by displaying a more objective reality.
If my life were subjected to such a trial, I’d say one thing alone: “Oh, no!”
Imagine someone who declared the importance of love for their kids and grandkids and preserving the world against climate change.
The prosecution might ask:
- Why don’t you donate to not-for-profit organizations defending against floods, fires, melting glaciers, and global warming?
- Have you volunteered to work for them?
- How much of your money is spent on non-essential purchases better used elsewhere?
- Why don’t you reduce your fossil-fuel footprint by using public transportation or buy an electric or hybrid vehicle instead of the full-gasoline-powered tank you drive?
- Why do you take frequent vacations in jet airplanes, adding more carbon to the air?
- Have you given any thought to how the next generations, the ones you love, will fare due to your inaction or action?
OK, enough. You get the idea.
None of us are pure, including me. No one is free of hypocrisy. Who among us matches every deed with his words?
All I’m saying is this: look in the mirror occasionally. Evaluate the difference between the person you believe you are and the one you really are.
I’m not suggesting you are bad, I’m not insisting you should give away all your clothes or begin a starvation diet, but we all need to do better.
You might even feel happier about yourself if you do.
The top painting is Woman at the Mirror by Georges Braque. It is sourced from WikiArt.org/
Living up to my values, beliefs, and principles is an ongoing challenge to overcome my own failure and weaknesses.
If you’ve taken the challenge on, Rosaliene, you are ahead of the many who imagine themselves as creatures they are not.
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In a Psychology of Women course, we learned to differentiate the person we truly are from the person politic (our politically leaning person). We looked at sexual orientations and how some might have a discrepancy between the orientation they want to be or were born with versus the orientation that they feel is necessary due to political and/or religious beliefs, societal pressures, etc. That was just one example.
What you posted here reminds me of those differences and more! It tells us to look deep within ourselves and find the person we truly are, which may or may not coincide with the political leanings we protest, or our religious beliefs, etc. There’s room to explore the nature of our hearts in relating to others, in giving, in exploring new things, in tolerance.
Even biblical scripture mentions something about doing things in secret, which may not resonate with what OTHERS THINK you are, but it could resonate with who you think you are versus who you really are when you reflect back on your life versus who you think God or another higher power thinks you are versus what religious institutions think you are versus what overall society thinks you are. There are many different aspects of who we are in relationship with others.
I like the heart of what you’re presenting, Dr. Stein. 🙂 Indeed, when we look at who we are and who we want to be, there is always room for improvement. We are a constantly evolving species. We like both tradition and innovation, maintaining routines but also advocating for new and improved ones. Managing ourselves includes aspects of tradition and innovation.
Thank you, Dragonfly. Yes, much complexity here. The world sometimes makes the full expression of ourselves dangerous, as you imply. If we are lucky and brave, we can come close to declaring our values and feeling there is no other way to live as we wish to. Then the question becomes, on what basis do we choose those values. Be well, Dragonfly.
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Thank you, Dr. Stein. Your replies are always so thoughtful and meaningful. 🙂
You are most welcome, Dragonfly.
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