preaching fragrant virtues

My spirituality – though I seldom use that word or think of it in those terms – also rebukes and admonishes me at times when I have done less than my best, less than what I know is honourable. I accept these proscriptions honestly and willingly, for only under these conditions can I hope to learn from my mistakes and do better. Above all it is a credo that demands and requires that I am honest with myself. It does not misdirect me, it does not comfort me when I am wrong, and it does not allow me to cover myself with a shroud of denial when I don’t want to face something unpleasant in myself. It does not lie to me about who I am or what I have done, it does not allow me to run from my responsibilities, and it is not affected by my attempts to manipulate it. It always challenges me to be good, to be better, and to do the right thing. The result is not pretty, but it is practical. It demands that I am prepared to face the worst in myself, and that I am never satisfied with the convenient or easy answer or any cheap justification for my unworthy actions.

My principles require me to think and communicate with simplicity, directness, and plainness in concept and phrase. This is my artistic preference as a writer also. For this reason I cannot speak of a “light,” of “harmony,” or a “spirit.” I cannot speak of it because I don’t understand how such terminology might relate to the plain facts of my life and my conduct of it. I believe that any honest and honourable philosophy worthy of the name speaks quietly and simply, and directly to the heart of what I know is true about myself. Whether I have adopted a convenient and inspiring phrase from other sources, or formulated the lofty idea by myself, I cannot preach its fragrant virtues in apologia for behaviour that compromises my values, whatever I hold them to be. I can’t use it to justify my actions or the events in which they transpire if those actions are less than honourable. I cannot refuse my responsibility for the well-being of those that trust or depend on me, nor the effects of my decisions if my deliberations were less than compassionate and considerate.

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