It's so simple to be wise.  Just think of something stupid to say, and then don't say it.     Sam Levenson (1911-1980)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Nine Days to Go...

I admit it:  Over the past two days, my mind was wandering during parts of the tefila (prayer).  No, not just the repetition, my own tefila.  Much of what I was thinking about was teshuva (repentence), more often than not, the teshuva I'm not doing, don't know how to do, or don't have the strength to do.  Since these ten days from Rosh haShana until Yom Kipur are designated "teshuva days," I guess I have some additional time.  Meanwhile, over the holiday, one thought was especially plaguing me.

Over the past few weeks I offended an acquaintance.  Not by something I said, exactly, rather by something I did, but we all know what speaks louder than words.

The irony is that, as in I did not mean to offend her.  Furthermore, I did not want to offend her, had no reason to offend her.  Had I been thinking in a certain direction, I would have easily developed a clearer understanding of how my actions could be construed as hurtful. but I wasn't thinking about that at all.

During tefila, I came to a new understanding of a rather simple concept:  So many, perhaps a majority, of the occasions we hurt people, come about not because we are trying to hurt them , but because we haven't considered how our motivations and actions will affect them.  We act based on what we want or need, but our precious egos constrict our consideration for the minds and hearts beyond our own.  

How many times have I been offended by someone who either didn't mean to offend me, or didn't mind offending me because his own desires took priority?  Millions of times.  This ego, which gives us the strength and courage to be productive, empathic, motivated people, is often too full of strength and bravado for our own good.

Perhaps for this reason, the Jewish people are always being called on to see things from a "G-d perspective," especially during this time of year.  Whether or not a person chooses to believe in G-d is almost irrelevant -- in any event, we all understand what it means to sometimes question the existence / power / presence of G-d. 

However, when we are asked, offered, or demanded to view things from the G-d perspective, we are required to look beyond ourselves and see things globally.  How does G-d really see the big picture?  How does G-d make sure everyone's needs get met?  To what extent do events in one place affect those in another?  How do my actions, my motivations, affect my friend, my neighbor, my colleague, my fellow humans?  

I don't have the answers.  I only have a blessing for myself and others:  That we will shape our own motivations and actions with more empathy, compassion, and understanding toward the motivations and actions of others. 

Keep the balance,



muse said...

Such a beautiful post

ProfK said...

I believe you are right: more hurt takes place unintentionally than intentionally, because we are not thinking about others but only ourselves. Certainly an area I'm going to try harder in.

rickismom said...

Excellent post!

Usually this happens when we are not really "with" the other person. If you understand where they are holding, you can usually steer clear of pitfalls!

A Living Nadneyda said...

Muse - Thank you.

ProfK - So will I.... often the challenge is figuring out how to think about others, in a way that will benefit them and ourselves. Lots of work to do there.

Ricki's Mom - So glad you're still one of my readers! But I totally understand, keeping up with so many blogs can become a big time commitment, competing with all the others... glad you're trying for more balance this year, and good luck.