When I listen to a great pianist or someone with the touch of a great percussionist, I do not even consider offering my advice. My role is to listen, feel (understand), and on good days enjoy following distantly in her or his footsteps. My lack of knowledge and understanding doesn’t, for me at least, take away from the enjoyment I have in being in their presence. I find the “best” seem to enjoy bringing others into their world, talking about what they are saying now and how this plays out in the world in which we find ourselves.
Somehow, my presumption doesn’t kick in during these moments, yet on other subjects I am a closet expert. Ironically, what do I know about the art of war? What do I really understand about being a god? “Who has scooped up the ocean in his two hands, or measured the sky between his thumb and little finger, who has put all the earth's dirt in one of his baskets, weighed each mountain and hill? Who could ever have told God what to do or taught him his business?” (Isaiah 40.12, 13) “Not I,” said the blind man (apologies for the clich?).
The irony is visible when I find myself critical of the experts. Tearing down, finding the fault, and pointing out weaknesses is a natural pastime one tends to enjoy. There is an alternative.
Without criticism or comment, we can call others to higher values. While treasuring our community, valuing the contribution of the experts, we can promote compassion, acceptance, and mercy. We can model the behaviors we most treasure as we struggle with the wicked problems that seem unsolvable. It isn’t that we accept the very things we criticize today. Acceptance does not need to be part of our approach. We can call for a better answer. We can join the discussion of what might be. We can live out the values we hope will want in the solution to our disputes and disagreements.
We, you and I, can live to the fullest; it is our answer.
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