Week 6, Friday Meditation 

           Photo by Nashua Otherwise

Who shall receive kindness except those who relied on it from the beginning...you will know the kindness of the Lord without grudge.

~The Odes of Solomon 23: 2, 4

The meanness of public discourse this year is not just jarring and vicious.  It endangers our own souls.   It’s not that incivility and heartlessness we hear can hurt us all that much.  Such bluster rarely goes that deep.

The real danger is how unkindness anywhere often prompts us also to be mean  and self-serving.  I can lash out after someone else’s viciousness.  In doing so I become less of a person and more of a slogan. 

Odes of Solomon 23 finds the source of kindness in our long-term practice of it.  It promises that the rhythm of everyday goodness undermines our lashing out, just as mean spiritedness makes us lesser people. 

I don’t mean that we cannot express in a heartfelt manner our anger and sadness about a culture of mean-spiritedness.  Probably a steady diet of both sadness and anger can become addictive.  But generally, sorrow and anger can help us.  Rather I propose that we simply set relatively strict spiritual discipline of regular kindness to everyone, even those who speak meanly.

If we find ourselves ill-tempered and revengeful in the face of so much vicious language, we actually undercut our longer term abilities to grow in graciousness and our ability to ask for forgiveness ourselves.  Let’s rely mostly on the deeper and more supple strands of kindness.

~Hal Taussig

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