Wednesday, April 16, 2014

When Good People Do Bad Things, And. . . .

I admit it: at moments, I can be a little bit of a contrarian. Even when I agree with something, part of me often silently mutters, "Yeah. . . but what about. . . . " Some of this is just what mind does- it wonders, questions, and puzzles over things for fun. And some of it is that I am fascinated by how a truth that helped me in one moment is sometimes not so helpful in another.

You've probably seen a piece floating around the internet titled "Anyway." Apparently it is based on eight of the ten "Paradoxical Commandments" written by Kent M Keith in 1968.( version I've shared below is the shorter one that Mother Teresa had up on the wall of her children's home in Calcutta. 

When I'm in a snarly mood (usually because I'm over-tired) and feeling like an imaginary deal whereby I was promised some kind of reward for doing the right thing has been thwarted, this piece is very helpful. It reminds me that behaving well is something I would really like to do for my own sake.

But, at other times- times when by grace I am more centred and less confused- I long for something a little more affirming of the human potential for goodness and sanity. 

So I wrote a piece in response to the "Anyway" version of "The Paradoxical Commandments," not as a criticism or a rebuttal, but perhaps as a companion piece. Grateful for the creative stirring the original offered, I don't think one replaces the other. People are at times unreasonable, self-centred, unkind, dishonest etc. And. . . people can also be reasonable, generous, kind, honest etc. 

Some of the time we need to be reminded that what matters most needs to be done without promise of reward for its own sake. And, at times, we are able to truly see the best in ourselves and others.

"Anyway" (as presented by Mother Teresa, based on "The Paradoxical Commandments" by Kent M. Keith)

People are often unreasonable and self-centred.
Forgive them anyway. 
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway. 
If you are honest, people may cheat you.
Be honest anyway. 
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. 
Be happy anyway. 
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. 
Do good anyway. 
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough.
Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. 
It was never between you and them anyway. 

"And. . . ." by Oriah

People are reasonable and generous.
May we give them every opportunity to show us this.
If we are kind, people will most likely trust us.
May we hold that trust as sacred.
If we are honest, people will do their best to treat us fairly.
May we support their efforts to do so with appreciation and presence.
When we find happiness, others will be drawn to us.
May we share our happiness when it arises, 
and lean into each other's happiness when ours is hard to find.
The good we do ripples out in unseen ways.
May we trust this without knowing precisely how this shapes the world.
May we give the world our best.
It is enough.
In the beginning, the end and all points in between, it is always about us and the Mystery.
May we know ourselves and every other as a manifestation of the Light of the Divine.

Oriah House (c) 2014

1 comment:

  1. This is as amazing as you .I will share in Heart Friends and on my Facebook page.