“and…or…” – a personal reflection on human behavior, part 3

Continuing to contemplate healthy and helpful behavior in the sphere of human relationships, other characteristics or qualities come to mind. Verily, I think of the word “power” and in much the same way the Apostle Paul speaks of the spiritual gift of love;[1] that is, an ability or a capacity to do something and, even more, a proficiency to do something well and most of the time.

I say “most of the time,” for I do not believe there are or can be any absolutes in human behavior, save perhaps for our idealized visions of how we should act. For none of us, whatever the standard, is faultless in her/his conduct. None of us is perfect, that is, complete in her/his being and becoming. None of us, again by whatever criterion, is completely good or bad. None is us is immune to the effect of that immutable aspect of human living: inconsistency. None of us, in the Apostle Paul’s language, “understands all mysteries and all knowledge”,[2] save perhaps for our acute awareness that among life’s variables of circumstance, chance, and choice, we, at best, most of the time have governance only over the third.[3]

Now, in the light (or under the shadow) of ungovernable circumstance and chance, a healthy, helpful power, I believe, and always only speaking for myself, is my ability to respond to life’s twists and turns, ups and downs with wisdom so to act wisely. By “wisdom”, I mean more than my knowledge or my intellectual grasp of an idea, but rather also my understanding, that is, my capacity to put into practice what it is I (think I) know.

In this, wisdom is multidimensional. It is grounded in experience and experience is the fruit of history, both my own and my observations of and conclusions drawn from that of others and, in regard to the latter, requiring my humility to be open and willing to learn from others.

Looking at my life, honesty compels my confession that my unhealthiest and most unhelpful behaviors have a common character of impetuousity. When I make a decision before I discern what’s real and true about the circumstance and chance confronting me or when I forsake reason and act largely on my feelings or when I ignore history’s lessons from others and trust only in my experience or when I repeat errors of my past and, thus, reaffirm the counsel of that proverbial saying from the annals of 12-step programs that the greatest form of insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different result.

More to come…

 

Footnotes:

[1] 1 Corinthians 13.1-13; regarding what love does (and doesn’t do) see especially verses 4-7.

[2] 1 Corinthians 13.2

[3] However, even our command of/over our choices is partial, given that our discernments about what’s real and true and our decisions/actions based on those determinations always are in response to those always wholly uncontrollable determinants of circumstance and chance.

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2 thoughts on ““and…or…” – a personal reflection on human behavior, part 3

  1. Paul,

    I absolutely get the roles of power and wisdom in our helpful and healthy behavior. I think some people who tend to abuse power in most areas of their lives also abuse power in terms of how they behave EVEN if they understand that more healthy and helpful behaviors enhance and improve relationships.

    What I learned most from this part of your series comes from the word “impetuous”… and how that can lead to doing the same behavior over and over even when trouble or disharmony has resulted from doing so. This is exactly the way I see much of the behavior of Donald Trump… he says dumb and hateful stuff repeatedly as if he expects that backlash to be less the next time but of course it isn’t. OR of course he could care less about real relationships and thus won’t ever make an attempt at healthy and helpful behavior.

    Very thought provoking words as I’m eating my lunch!! You’re awesome! Thanks!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Loretta, yes, I believe there is a power-dimension in every moment of every relationship and I agree with you that when we abuse power in an area of our living we are likely to do so in other (perhaps all) areas of our life.

      And funny you mentioned Donald Trump. You made me conscious that he was the starting thought of this series. In that consciousness, I realize that I swiftly moved on to talk about human behavior(s) from the personal perspective of my own evolution/development; a transition I did not and could not anticipated. In this, I have surprised myself!

      Liked by 1 person

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