Texas Faith: Falling into sin
Most of us agree on the difference between right and wrong. It is wrong to steal; it is wrong to commit adultery; it is wrong to kill.
The parameters of right and wrong are widely shared in most civil societies. But we often find ourselves, in the practice of everyday life, justifying little wrongs with the balance that we do greater good in some other area. And some of us, over time, begin to justify greater and greater wrongs as we accustom ourselves to lives of what we might call sin.
Think about how this happens in an individual. Is this the spiritual battle we are meant to fight, the push back against the slide into doing wrong? What draws the soul or mind toward sin, and what is the defense against it?
AMY MARTIN, director emeritus, Earth Rhythms; writer/editor, Moonlady Media
Ah, the rationalization tango. Humans know it well. We’ve been experts at rationalization for thousands of years. Hypocrisy is the currency of much politics and religion. The cognitive dissonance is so extreme I’m surprised the talking heads on television heads don’t explode right there on the screen.
Yet the core of what makes us human is discretion, the critical thinking skills of our higher minds. Discretion counters the rigidity of rules that supersede human compassion. Key thing to remember: Don’t believe everything you think. Especially if those thoughts are bound up with the visceral “fight or flight” emotions of the limbic system.
Taoism, like many eastern faiths, does not frame actions in terms of sin. Rape, murder, theft and other nefarious deeds are a sign that the perpetuator, whether and individual or group, is out of balance. To stay in balance, to actually walk our talk, means constant monitoring and constant adjusting. Staying moral is like slalom skiing. Go too far either way and you fall.
The ability to inflict hurt on others begins with the Ds: dismissal, diminishment, and disavowal, all the way to dehumanization. Watch for dismissal especially; it begins it the entire process and we do it all the time. It’s essential to understand the many subtle ways arrogance and narcissism manifests, how easily we embrace hubris and reject humility. And be ever vigilant against group-think.
But the best defense against the slow slide of rationalization is honest friends and partners, ones that are not afraid to call you on your crap. Free communication is the key, including a supported vigilant press and the right to civil protest unmolested by police and armies.