Thursday, June 7, 2012

angels and devils

So easy to say.

So hard to do.

So vital either way.

If there is anything the current upsurge in revulsion and horror about Roman Catholic priest sexual abuse makes stridently and abundantly clear it is this:


Beware of the devils of this life.

Beware of the angels as well.

Just because 'everyone' says something is so or is common practice, and just because you fear being lonely and so add your voice in friendship's sake does not mean it is angelically so.

Just because 'everyone' says something is not so or is not common practice, and just because you fear being lonely and so add your voice for friendship's sake does not mean it is devilishly false.

Baseball teams, gender equality, race relations, poverty, wealth, progress, political parties, social agendas, abortion, religion, love affairs, corruption ... the list goes on and on: And, because someone 'honestly' or even 'fervently' believes something one way or the other, s/he adds a voice/opinion/belief and is warmed at the social fires of agreement.

There is nothing wrong in it except what is often missing -- the willingness to recognize a personal responsibility for whatever that view is. Relying on the warming social fires is irresponsible and, as often as not, reprehensible. OK to say yes. OK to say no. But morally spineless and dangerous not to own up to that decision.

I think the best course is this:

Where there are angels in the mind, beware.

Where there are devils in the mind, beware.

No need to agree or disagree until the willingness to take personal responsibility ripens. Intellect is kool. Emotion is kool. But personal responsibility is a horse of different color: It takes nerve to say yes when everyone else is saying yes; it takes nerve to say no when everyone else is saying no; it takes nerve to take personal responsibility and not accede to the comforting righteousness of friends. If all else fails, fall back on the psychological gambit that does not really engage: "Umm-hmmm" or "that's interesting, why do you say that?" Let responsibility ripen however long it takes.

Where the bright new tomorrow's beckon ... get out your umbrella.

Where hell and damnation rise up ... get out your dancing shoes.

Be the contrarian until you are willing to take the responsibility that may pass for agreement, but is really much more adult. Don't fake yourself or others out based on easy intellect, easy emotion, or easy social agreement.

I agree with you not because I agree with you but because I agree with me. If there is a warming social glow that emanates from that statement, well, it's cozy, but it is not centrally important. It's important to be the commander of your own life and not just some whiney quavering clerk.

Easy to say.

Hard to do.

Do it anyway.

Angels and devils are a dime a dozen.

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