a reflection for the 3rd Sunday of Advent, December 13, 2015
Our human hunger to be right is not entirely unhealthy. In one especial sense, it’s obligatory. We, as individuals in the context of life lived in community, are summoned by virtue of being in relationship with another or others to discern and establish principles to guide our conduct; our judgments, assessments, choices and decisions. Determining what I’ll term “rules of rightness” is one of the fundamental necessities of any organized activity or orderly society.
However, an inherent temptation (a characteristic, I think, of our human sin of selfish self-interest), therefore a problem arises when we (whether acting as a person, a family, a community or group, a people or nation) believe our way of being and doing is better or more right than any other. The problem heightens when we, in a religious sense (ascribing to the idea that there is something greater than ourselves, whether a personal deity, an organized intelligent universe, an overarching value/virtue, an absolute cause, or supreme commitment), seek to justify ourselves. The problem deepens when that larger reality no longer serves as an external reference point for our internal ground of being or sense of meaning. For then we, no longer needing to explain or validate our beliefs, can claim ourselves to be the source of our rightness and declare, “I’m right!”