the power of words, both lovely & unlovely outcomes

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Inspiring Quotes

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Rob White Gps Guide

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Meditation Myths

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http://www.lvrj.com/view/sometimes-figures-of-speech-lovely-sentiments-become-overly-politicized-197262451.html

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I hear this bromide a lot these days: “Those less fortunate than ourselves.” I just sort of let it roll off my back without thinking. Upon closer inspection though, I think this seemingly harmless phrase carries some rather nasty implications:

1. All “good fortune” has to do with money.

2. The rest of us are MORE fortunate than those referred to in the phrase.

3. There is no remedy for being “less fortunate” other than “good fortune.”

4. The primary reason we are better off financially than those less fortunate is based primarily on pure happenstance, including the situation we were born into.

5. You are a member of “those less fortunate” through no fault of your own.

6. If you busted ass to improve your lot in life you’re an odd statistical outlier.

7. It patronizes the poor and further entrenches them in their poverty.

Am I overly sensitive to cringe every time I hear this expression? – P.T.

It’s fascinating, isn’t it, to watch a figure of speech getting politicized when that figure of speech might otherwise have its origins in a lovely sentiment.

You’re right, of course. The word “fortune” has to do with happenstance. Capricious, blind luck. Chance. “Fortune” comes with an added layer of meaning, too. That being more than a hint of the idea that someone or something is in charge of dispensing fortune with something like an intention. Chance is a mathematical probability. But fortune is more the doing of the gods.

Since forever, the suffering of the poor has always been keenly related to the responsibilities of the rich. Consider the pity saying, “To whom much is given, much is expected.” But there it is again: “given.” Given is not the same as earned.

No, you’re not being overly sensitive. In my opinion, it has never been harder to get past the politics of language so that we can have meaningful, edifying, crucial dialogues, which is the only way to confront what is really going on. What’s the truth? What constitutes authentic moral responsibility?

At its best, the saying “those less fortunate than ourselves” was meant to convey two things. We mean at once to convey empathy for those who suffer and some sense of appreciation and gratitude if we do not. The latter conveyance is the antidote for temptations to entitlement. The former an antidote for the temptation to condemnation and “let them eat cake.”

But, when the saying is conscripted by politics, it begins to work against us. To entrench ideas that range from incomplete to unhelpful to part of the problem all the way to just plain not true.

Consider this: One of the unwitting consequences of The Age of Reason is a tribe of “Left Brainers.”

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And Left Brainers struggle with paradox. Some of them just don’t “do” paradox. This is a problem, because I’m convinced that only paradox can embrace the wholeness of the truth and the human experience.

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Here’s the paradox: Life is at once replete with “chance” (that which we do not control) AND moral responsibility (that which we can and should be expected to control).

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[A paradox is not the same as a contradiction. If you say to me, “The skies are clear and the skies are cloudy,” you are talking in contradiction. Because the skies cannot at once be clear and cloudy. Either the skies are clear. Or they are cloudy.

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But, if you ask me, “Is love a force sublime, beautiful, life-giving and nurturing, or is love terrifying, painful, disquieting and often overwhelming,” my answer will be, “Yes.” And I won’t be joking. Or speaking in contradictions. “Yes” is the right answer to your question. It just happens to be a paradoxical answer, because the very nature of love is a  paradox.

http://www.lvrj.com/living/pondering-the-paradoxical-mystery-of-human-connections-144133365.html]

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[https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/03/09/in-praise-of-married-couple-sista-clara-and-herb-alvarez-and-sista-claras-under-his-wings-social-ministry/

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http://www.lvrj.com/blogs/kalas/Before_you_can_love_others_you_must_love_yourself.html

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A paradox is like a hammock: The only way to rest comfortably is to hang each end of the hammock on irreconcilable opposites (see note). And the difference between a contradiction and a paradox is that with a paradox [irony], the irreconcilable opposites are always true.

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Objectively, your question pushes us toward the necessity of two psychological maturities: discernment (the ability to understand what’s going on) and stewardship (the ability to weigh and measure what you have and don’t have to give, and, if you do have it, whether you should). These two things lie at the heart of all deep deliberation and, in any given moment, shape the answer to your question regarding where your primary concern should be.

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Here’s a banal illustration: I’m on an airplane as I type this. Before takeoff, the attendant gave us the safety lecture. She said that, while they never anticipate a sudden loss of cabin pressure, should it occur, oxygen masks would drop down from overhead. She said that, if I was traveling with a small child who needed assistance with the mask, that I should put mine on first.

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In short, as a function of discernment and stewardship of my “concern economy,” I should in this case make myself my primary concern. I assume because, were I to lose consciousness, my primary concern for my child would immediately become a moot point.

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No primary concern for self matters unless it obliges us in relationship with others. No primary concern for others is completely healthy unless it reflects a healthy regard for self.]

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I didn’t decide to be born in the United States. I just was. I didn’t decide to have a body with insufficient athletic ability to garner an NBA contract. I just do. On the other hand, it’s right to insist I take moral responsibility for the unearned, unmerited liberties I enjoy because of the sacrifices the early colonials laid at the feet of liberty and freedom. And the body I do have deserves exercise and good nutrition. Rightly my responsibility and mine alone.

Capitalism contains both chance and moral responsibility. Why isn’t that obvious? If I bet on orange juice futures with my life savings and the orange crop fails, I’ll be the victim of bad luck. Who knew? On the other hand, I am responsible for the risks I take in capitalism. No one made me invest. I took the risk.

It is possible to do everything right toward The American Dream and sometimes still have a nightmare.

And   I ask you (and anybody else who will listen): Gather everyone you see with a sign that says “Will work for food” and see if you can convince yourself these people wield this scrap of cardboard solely because they have been unlucky in capitalism. Answer: not even close. Anomalies notwithstanding, the poor participate in their own poverty. And I would argue the poor cannot be ultimately aided without a fearless moral inventory of this participation.

Both/and. The paradox. Neither the poor nor the rich deserve to be vilified because they are poor or rich. That’s ridiculous.

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Humility and responsibility are best held together by paradox.

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/steven-kalas/words-and-actions-required-be-credible-relationship

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Ever hear the ol’ saying “Actions speak louder than words”? It’s not true. On a good day it is a gross overstatement. If you mean “Words without constancy of action are meaningless words,” then I’m there. I agree. But louder than words? Nope.

It is only with words that we can make and enter covenant. And it is only through covenants that love, intimacy, faithfulness and constancy can be realized, nurtured and sustained. I know this because I’ve lost count of the adult men and women who recount the actions of their father. He worked hard. Put food on the table, a roof over our heads, and paid for me to get an education. He came to my soccer games. He taught me to fish. And later, to drive. They tell the story of a father with a constancy of action.

And then they look sad, or even begin to cry. They begin to share an acute emptiness in the relationship. A painful distance. An inexplicably missing piece in an otherwise beautiful man. “He never said he loved me,” the patient will lament.

And I never respond by saying: “Don’t you know that actions speak louder than words? You are supposed to infer your father’s love from his constancy of action.” Nope, I move with empathy and encouragement. I acknowledge the absence of the words “I love you” as a real loss.

Until you can say “I love you,” there will be something about love that is withheld, incomplete or absent. In a courtroom, when the bailiff asks if we’ll promise to tell the truth, we say, “I do.” At our wedding, when the preacher asks if we’ll take this man/woman to be our spouse forever faithfully no matter what, we say, “I will.” If we behave badly, we say: “I’m sorry. My behavior was wrong and hurtful. I hope you can forgive me.”

We don’t say: “Actions speak louder than words. Just watch me and judge for yourself.”

Covenants are not inferred. They are forged. In words. The big ones and the little daily ones. Let your yes be yes, and your no be no. Then act accordingly.

It’s not true that actions speak louder than words. What’s true is that a constancy of action makes words credible and meaningful. But, just as often, it is words that make faithful action possible. Words allow your mate and your family to receive the meaning of your actions — not merely the benefits.

Unless you can say it, there is something about it that isn’t yet entirely true.

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One Response to the power of words, both lovely & unlovely outcomes

  1. Pingback: In praise of our greatest wordsmith & symbolist — Herb Alvarez | Curtis Narimatsu

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