It’s a powerful word. It creates a wall, a restriction, a boundary. It marks the difference between right and wrong, good and evil, truth and fallacy. We need this word. It must be active in our vocabulary. Otherwise we will accept everything, even the lies we are told.
Archives for May 2018
Power exists. It may be an unseen concept but it is felt. It is felt in the dynamics of relationships. Whether individual to individual, individual to institution, or institution to institution, the power that each wield is felt by certain actions that they take.
Consider the withholding of information (also known as the silent treatment). Or the show of force (found often in the expression of anger). What about the taking on of responsibilities? While often considered a good thing, the giving of a responsibility to someone else can also be seen as a giving of power to said person.
So how do we solve power imbalances? From the three examples, if we force transparency (also known as honesty) we draw out the silent ones. If we respond neutrally to shows of force, the mechanism loses its edge. And if we begin to take back our responsibilities, then we take back the power we initially held.
There’s one rule among many which communities use to engender trust within oral traditions. It is, said plainly, do not say anything that you do not know for sure.
What does that really mean? It means that embellishment is not allowed. Exaggeration is not allowed. Outright lying is of course not allowed. What about inference? Not if it is stated without qualification.
That is, if you know particular parts of a story to be true but not others, tell only the true parts. If you are asked about the other parts, simply say you don’t know.
If an accumulation of sources allow you to piece together a part that you hadn’t previously known, SITE YOUR SOURCES!!
The telling of observed truth, the quoting and siting sources, the leaving out of gossip, all engender trust. And trust is the only thing that can form bonds strong enough for a tradition to flow over – from one person to the next, across generations and geography.
I wonder when the phrase “gone for good” began to mean “gone for forever.” Thus making “for good” mean “forever” as opposed to “for the better.”
Language is funny, with all its turns of phrases, and possible confusions. And yet words have immense power.
Lies can cause generational strife. Empowering words can cause constant, if not instant, renewal. With this power shouldn’t we tame our tongue? Simplify our speech? If we did, we’d be more conscious of making the words we say speak be for good and for ever.
The act of mentioning the names of famous acquaintances in the midst of conversation can be taken as being a show off. Others can get turned off or star struck (both bad).
There was a time when performers’ biographies especially in the tap dance and jazz music worlds were full of name dropping. Who someone had learned from or played with spoke to the quality of content they had inherited and the trust of the community they had been given. This was multiplied if the names on the lists where intergenerational.
Today biographies are filled with what performers have done. Not where they came from. Maybe that’s the way it should be. If you have done a particular show, you should be trustworthy. Right?
But is a series of accomplishments enough to ensure that when these performers are brought to teach that they are continuing the lineage, upholding the standard, and sharing contributions/content in the right context?
If not, the social fabric which is the foundation upon which trust is built begins to fracture – especially when talking about oral traditions. So here’s to name dropping, getting the details right, encouraging people in the search, and remembering and sharing the history that you (and maybe you alone) carry.
We hear the phrase a lot. When a leader, a person of seemingly good report, even a celebrity, begins their downward journey from wherever they have been upheld. Grace is that unique combination of forgiveness, encouragement, a second chance, and a standard bearer, fueled by Love. It’s an uncommon concept in an achievement oriented culture and I’ve unpacked it a little more here. So what does it mean to fall from Grace?
It means first that Grace has had something (if not everything) to do with allowing our hero to achieve their position in the first place. It means that they were not perfect to begin with, that their rise was not of their own doing and without fault, and that have been found worthy of the experience of grace, if only for a time.
Until the fall, when the protection of grace is lifted, when not only the judgement but the condemnation comes as well. Our hero has been found to be unrepentant. Now no apology will suffice. There is a price to be paid. And it will come in the forms of reputation, provision, achievements, all the things of value that we tend to measure a life by (at least on this earth). They will be stripped away, otherwise justice will not be served. And at this point, as we look upon their life without grace, we see that justice must be served. A sentence must come down.
It strikes me that in the midst of a fall many rally behind the law and cheer for justice, and the condemnation becomes the focus.
What of grace?
When I was younger, I was often called out for being too sensitive. People would warn my parents about my future ability to survive.
Here’s the thing. A heightened sensitivity has lead to a heighten sense of the need for justice, clarity around the the difference between what is good and what is evil, and the mandate for grace. Grace, that is, unless we want to see the rightful condemnation for every evil act (large and small), ever committed.
I would rather see mercy and reconciliation.