“While man blames another for causing him harm, the wise man first takes himself to task.” Hazrat Inyat Khan
“Attend to self reform and social reform will take care of itself.” Ramana Maharshi
Jesus said it another way, “Judge not lest you be judged.” Matthew 7:1.
We’re all guilty of judgment as this is part of the human condition. Sometimes we work things out by speaking it out loud. This is where the hurt begins. My mother, in her glorious wisdom, used to say “speak less, listen more.”
These days we are passing a lot of pretense around. There’s a number of Stephen Hawkings and Einsteins who have the answers to the universe. It seems they’ve been anointed to do so. I might have more faith in them if they proclaim more “good news to the poor,” but I’m not seeing much of that. There’s a lot of justification and finger pointing. There’s a lot of “not me, I don’t do that” going around. No one knows the answers and the wise ones know this above all.
We see this in our churches – of all places – as well. We fall back on doctrine or piety and self-righteous indignation.
I don’t mean to sound condemning because I’m as guilty as the next guy. I’m a big work in progress and need to take my own advice more. I love to listen to other perspectives, though. The journalist in me likes to share them. It’s hard not to be passionate. It’s hard to keep silent when you see injustice, and many are speaking in the name of justice and rightly so.
As a teacher I’m still mastering putting the learning in the hands of the students and get out of the way. It’s hard to do.
There’s an old social justice saying, “Silence is consent.” It’s hard for me to pick and choose when to be silent and when to speak up. The great mystic St. Francis of Assisi figured it out, though. “Teach the gospels and when necessary use words.”
We are bleeding vitriol and venomous spite. I wish we could edit ourselves better. I’ve challenged myself to speak less and listen more. When I lashed out on social media, I’ve challenged myself to take on service for every time I do it. I find myself lashing out less and speaking out more through my actions.
This is the work that the great Sufi mystic Inyat Khan was writing about. We work on ourselves through service. We support one another through service. We bless to be a blessing through service. We make this world a better place through service. “Speak less, listen more, and serve others.”