Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Loving-kindness, Compassion, Generosity

lent has begun, and i am focusing on two disciplines.  first, as i wrote in an earlier post, i'm working on controlling my tongue, and necessarily trying to change the way i think about others.  as i've thought and prayed about how to do that, a second discipline has developed as a way of accomplishing the first.  each time i begin to think a critical thought about another person, i silently say these three words to myself: "loving-kindness, compassion, generosity."  it has amazed me that this little mantra has helped so much in redirecting my thoughts from criticism to tolerance and a desire to help that person i was inclined to criticize.

another thing i'm doing during lent is ignoring much of the news that normally occupies my attention.  when i pick up the morning paper, i read the comics first, then i skim everything else.  i gave up watching news on television several months ago and find that i'm better off for it.  in the US, politics seems to be dominated by anger.  every elected official seems to believe that his or her point-of-view is the only right one, and the spirit of compromise and tolerance that used to enable our government to get things done is largely absent.  i'm simply tired of the anger.  the idea that "i'm right, therefore you must be wrong" paralyzes our government and is creating so much ill will.  more and more, i'm convinced that truth usually lies somewhere in the middle between two opposing viewpoints, and intolerance of another's position keeps our leaders from discovering that truth-in-the-middle.

righteous indignation over wrong is certainly not a bad thing, but if righteous indignation leads to inaction, there's little point to it.  so, here are my three goals for lent: (1) controlling my mind & tongue to be less critical of others, (2) replacing criticism with loving-kindness, compassion, & generosity, and (3) replacing anger over our national discourse with thoughts of how to find common ground.

my prayer for each of us this day is that we will learn to be more tolerant of others, respecting them even when we disagree, and seeking common ground that enables us to take action for the good of others.

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