I used to think intelligence was the most important trait. Later in life, I decided kindness was.
After this election year debacle, I suspect both are equally important and that a sense of humor probably is way up there with them, because it can free us to see ourselves honestly. Age doesn’t automatically bring wisdom, but it often brings humor which can be the beginning of self-honesty. And once that happens, you empty your pockets of all those stones you are tempted to throw at others. And that’s the beginning of wisdom.
Kiddos! We ALL see through the glass of our limited perception darkly (imperfectly)! Quick! Get rid of the temptation of those stones before they come back to haunt you.
Being smart and being intelligent are different in practice. Being smart is more about the present moment and the practical, being intelligent is about learning from the past, so humanity can live both free and humanely in the future.
Morals and ethics are different also. Morals are about not doing evil, while ethics are about not achieving reasonable goals evilly. Morals are immediate and personal. Ethics are long term and social.
Ethics question whether an end, particularly the goal of our personal happiness, justifies means that hurt people and that set precedents for corrupting society.
In trying to pass down values for a changing world, I want to challenge my descendants:
1. Morals: Don’t do it if you don’t want those you care about to read it on the front page or see it on U-tube.
2. Ethics: Don’t do it if everyone else also doing it will make the world less humane and not a place you would want your grandchildren or loved ones to have to survive.
Obviously we need both smart people and intelligent people. We also need moral people and ethical people.
Unfortunately, the smart and the intelligent, like the moral and the ethical, often end up politically opposed to one another. Neither realizing that issues aren’t either /or. Instead, what is needed is serious dialogue in order to find a balance in the tension of opposites.
But that kind of openness requires spirituality, not religion. And spirituality is very expensive personally. Spirituality is on a whole other level than morality or ethics or religion. It’s about becoming and being, not doing or achieving.
It’s described in Matthew 5: 3-11 I am paraphrasing:
Graced are the poor in spirit for they can be open to God. (When not filled with self importance, we have room for God within.)
Graced are those that accept the pain of loss for they will find the Comforter within. (Sorrow, not escape, leads to the Spirit.)
Graced are those who do not need to own or have power over anything for the joy of everything is theirs. (Then we are free to window shop the world, enjoying its beauty and other people’s joy.)
Graced are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for Jesus will come and abide in them.( When we recognize our own unworthiness, we can accept Jesus as our righteousness)
Graced are those who recognize the log in their own eye, for they will know how unconditionally God loves them.( And then we can love the unloveable.)
Graced are those focused on God, for then we see Him everywhere.
Graced are the peacemakers because no cause, nation, or person owns them, then we belong only to God.
Graced are those persecuted for Jesus’ sake, for we know Jesus.
Graced are the falsely accused and rejected, for then we are free to please only God.
Spirituality is foreign to us, because it is paradoxical and few of us have had any training in grasping paradox.
We’re faced with having to lose to win and having to die to live. And that takes grace more than smarts or intelligence,
and it takes grace more even than morals or ethics. And opening to grace takes admitting we need it. That’s the leap of faith that jump starts our spiritual journey.
God of the Universe, we are yours, take us and give us the grace to become the people you created us to be. We cannot do it on our own. Give us the righteousness of Jesus, so we will know the depth and breadth of your love, and fill us with Your Spirit to guide us on our journey back home to you. Amen