Words are cheap, rhetoric easy. Nothing is meant by the words. Little accountability is expected, especially by the people saying the words. The present and future, once the words pass on into silence, goes on as if the words had never been formed, birthed, and lived on in the lives of those who were touched by hearing. In this context commitments are not really “commitments”. I’m no longer sure what they are.
I wish I could say this way to treating conversations was unique to certain people, places, times, or even attitudes. It isn’t. You can find the “new” way of looking of our words in New York as easily as you can in Chennai, old and young, those comfortable and with those who are struggling for survival. If there are any exceptions it lies with those who know the pain of broken promises. For those with torn hearts and bruised souls, words are one of life’s most precious gifts.
In this context I find myself examining my commitments and words. It is far too easy to find exceptions to the values and priorities I hold closest to my heart. It is as if I have forgotten or misplaced the very things I most earnestly search for in others. An old prophet’s words comes back to haunt me in the dawn of a new day; “When you put on your next prayer-performance, I'll be looking the other way. No matter how long or loud or often you pray, I'll not be listening. And do you know why? Because you've been tearing people to pieces, and your hands are bloody.” (Isaiah 1.15)
As bad as the warning is today is an opportunity to begin realizing life in a totally different way. We are not bound by yesterday, we can learn from it. We do not need to carry yesterday’s failures with us. We can live today with the opportunity and hope freedom gives. We hold the hope and questions found in commitments – to ourselves, our God, family, community, and to the very principles we hold most dear.
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