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The Sin and the Sinner


I have been somewhat absent from my blog for awhile and to be honest, I needed a bit of a break. It was depressing really covering a lot of the same subjects to death and in all honesty, I was really beginning to lose my faith in people.

I’ve always thought of myself to be optimistic and believed that people are basically good but I don’t know if this is something that comes with age or if there is a real change in people going on, but I see much more self-centeredness going on these days. People seem to only be about what short-term gains for themselves they can manage and the fact that we are all in the same boat together doesn’t seem to compute. Of course, I’ve been bemoaning this ad nauseam – I’m sure you’re as tired of reading it as I am of writing it.

It really falls to this – I really need to start taking some of my own advice. I have been so disappointed in people, so hypocritical about pointing out their sins that I forget one of my own tenets – forgive the sinner, hate the sin. People are of course going to do what’s best for themselves – that’s what we’re geared to do. Those in power have preyed upon the instinct since civilization began. Madison Avenue’s use of it is a bit more recent.

While I agree that we have to start looking at the larger picture and start realizing that life isn’t all about ourselves, I need to look at a smaller aspect of that picture before I can tackle the king-size photo. When I talk about “people” what I’m really talking about is a collection of individuals, all of whom are different from one another and run the gamut, from the practical to the dreamers, from the hedonists to the pragmatists, from richer to poorer, with every religious, philosophical and political belief under the sun. People piss me off. Individuals are friends, family, acquaintances. I can put a face on individuals. People are just a teeming mass of self-centered jerks.

When someone drives like a maniac and puts other people at risk because they’re in a hurry, even though it’s an individual behind the wheel I see people. When I read about Fred Phelps and his band of Kansas idiots, these are each and every one of them an individual but I still see people. When I hear another news story about corporate bigwigs and lobbyists telling congress that legislation that would help reduce our carbon footprint would be too expensive, these are all individuals at work but I only see people.

We are all of us our own universe. There are a few planets – friends and families – and the occasional comet (Uncle Harry coming in for one of his infrequent but chaotic visits) but really, we are the center of our own universe. The planets revolve around us. Of course, we also are part of other universes and revolve around other centers. Perhaps the analogy isn’t very apt unless you want to try a science fiction quantum mechanics multi-dimensional theory on for size but still you get my drift. Most of us are only capable of experiencing and seeing things through the filters of our own universe.

That we are part of a larger galaxy somehow eludes most of us. We just want to keep our universe free of hassle. No black holes, no gamma radiation bursts, just nice, clean, neat and easy. Everything in its place.

But that makes it difficult to see the world as its own universe and everyone in it as planets in their own orbits. We can see easier the big picture in that case than the individual planets – but because we can’t see the individual planets, we lose focus on the big picture. That has been my own sin of late.

It is going to be difficult for me, but this is my New Year’s resolution; to see People as individuals and to understand that the reason that they are People is because they are used to not being seen as individuals themselves. I need to realize that these individuals are all individually imperfect – some would call them sinners. All of us individuals do not always make the best decisions – some would call these sins. To deal with People, I must learn to relate to them as individuals. I must forgive the sinner their sins, and relate to them rather than be annoyed by them. I must try harder to effect change through love and kindness rather than anger and frustration.

Two of the people I admire most in this world are Martin Luther King Jr., whose birthday we celebrate this weekend, and Mahatma Gandhi, the great Indian spiritual and secular leader. They are great men and justifiably revered because they felt the best way to effect change was through peaceful, non-violent means. Yes, it got them both assassinated but their lives will continue to affect the world long after I’m gone – centuries down the road even. My goal is to try and live by their example and work for a better world so that years from now, my grandchildren may not have to be as annoyed and frustrated as I am. Baby steps.

I’m not trying to compare myself to these great men. I’m trying to inspire myself with them. I hope that their examples will compel me to achieve things in a way I can be proud of, and to live with their examples of love and peace.

It is appropriate to reflect on, this long weekend, that the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream, one which remains unfulfilled forty years later. We may well be closer to it than we were back then, but we still have a long way to go. That can be taken as a reason to be bitter and angry, but were he alive today I suspect he would roll up his sleeves and say that there is still much work to do, let’s get out there and do it. His dream can still come true but not until we learn to hate the sin and love the sinner. It’s quite the New Year’s resolution, but one worth tackling.

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2 Responses

  1. Glad your back Carlos!!! Have missed reading your blogs…as usual point well taken!!

  2. I’m glad to read I’m not the only one with “group” generalization thoughts! You are absolutely on target with the self-centered description of many people these days. It is so refreshing to find a real caring person now and again to restore faith in humanity. Glad you’re back on Carlos!
    Wishing you Good Health, Happiness, and Prosperity throughout the New Year!
    Rhonda

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