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 I don’t recall exactly when it was that I decided I wanted to be a good person. Not that most people sit down and make that decision usually. Most, I would hazard a guess never even think of it.

And surely nobody reclines upon couch and ponders which of the two they will aspire to. I mean even the worst of the worst doesn’t see themselves as dedicated to being bad. Shit happens, they would argue.

I would assume that my decision to seek a holier way of being (becoming a saint, now that desire seems in itself sheer chutzpah) arrived in my mind sometime around the time of my “conversion.” 

It seemed somehow part of the package–become a Christian–think about reforming your life. Like peanut butter and jelly, they seem to go together. It’s not that I was not a good person beforehand. I was more, shall we say, not concerned much, about the details. I was law abiding, didn’t go out of my way to deliberately cause trouble with others, was sociable, that kind of thing.

But I admit, I usually put me first, and my bad mood usually impacted on those around me. I have never had much in the way of patience, certainly with the limitations of others whom I needed to accomplish my goal. I still have problems trying to understand why patience is so virtuous. Why can’t I expect that the clerk at Walmart actually knows the names of the veggies she is checking out? Do I really have to tell you that you are holding a cabbage for goodness sake?

So, upon conversion, I figured I should try harder to not be impatient, not be short, not be snide and sarcastic in the face of incompetence and laziness among those who were being paid to DO THEIR FREAKIN JOB.

Perhaps some of my ongoing failure to do as well as I would like is the result of my conversion not being an earth shattering thing. Basically I came to the proposition that God was pretty much an even bet, and common sense lay in opting for Him as opposed to against him. And besides, more important for sure was that I wanted to believe He existed. I found life somewhat meaningless without God.

Perhaps, since I was not blinded by the light, heard the angelic voice, or saw a bona fide miracle, I never took it as seriously as I should.

In any case, I’ve not found my success rate nearly as good as I had hoped. It seems to surge here and there, on Sundays for sure, and while and after I’ve read a particularly moving spiritual book. Sometimes the selflessness of others causes me to rededicate myself. But, sadly I seem to fall back into the same old patterns, grousing and crabbing about politicians, and  others who seem insensibly dull when it comes to things I consider obvious.

I have plenty of examples around me, people who seem always serene, always polite, kind, gentle. Who respond to insults and snotty behavior with quiet calm voice. The Dalai Lama of course, Desmond Tutu, are stellar examples. But I can point to a few in my church, who seem to me, always to  find the inclusive way in their interactions.

I on the other hand am all to dualistic. I fail the I-Thou in favor of I-you in personal encounters. I can preach the right thing, I just don’t do it nearly well enough. I’m right, you are wrong, and I’ve concluded by the way that you can’t be fixed without the intervention of the Almighty, and that ain’t me. So I dust off my hands and move off in disgust, ready to consign you to the trash heap of useless beings who just take up oxygen.

I don’t want to harm you, mind you, I just want you to shut up, sit down, and leave the running of the world to those of us I designate as knowing how to do it. Humility is ground under my feet wouldn’t you say? My arrogance is overflowing don’t you agree?

I can’t begin to know how many others there are like me. I hope most, but I fear a good many less. All I can do is keep remembering that God is merciful–that has to be true, since if He were not, I’d  have been fried into a crispy critter long ago. So I rededicate myself for the 3,492 time to doing better.

You know those stickers you see on the back of trucks sometimes? The one’s that say–“How’s my driving? Call 555-2121. ” Well I sometimes think it would be a good thing for us humans too to wear such a thing. But then again, I usually know as soon as I speak whether I’ve been good or bad in my quest to be a better person. Still, keeping count may be useful.

If you have suggestions I’m all ears. (Actually not, I’m pretty much composed of the usual limbs like most everyone else!) Which reminds me of the parody of Julius Caesar–“Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears!” (throw a sack of ears on stage left!)

Seriously, I am getting older by the minute and don’t have much time (perhaps less than I think when you actually think about it), so if you can help, I’d appreciate it. This treadmill is getting tiresome, I’d like to move on up the mountain.

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