Sunday, July 5, 2009

What Makes God's Ideals Ideal?

I believe one of the subtle messages Jesus taught about ideals is that it is not enough, nay it is nearly meaningless I tell you, to follow ideals with practicality in mind. Meaning, if one follows ideals only within the context of what is deemed practical, he will likely never follow them when they are at all meaningful. In other words, I think Jesus was teaching us that ideals are only truly ideal when they are not practical.

For instance, consider Jesus' teachings on love as an ideal. If treated as such, love is most ideal or perhaps only ideal when it involves loving those that are most difficult to love. If you only love those that reciprocate, what credit is that to you? Even the devil of hell and mobsters are quite capable of this! Loving only those that love you certainly is practical but is far from ideal. Applying this principal to other things like forgiveness and mercy, it appears many might believe in ideals. However, their Achilles' heel prohibits them from actually exercising these ideals when it is impractical to do so. But when an ideal is exercised only when it is practical, it will not be followed when it is most needed. This is not ideal.

Isn't it touching that people have sympathy for an abused baby or an abandoned puppy? Of course people have sympathy for them! But this is a case of practical sympathy. It does not require anything close to that of a saint to be sympathetic to the plight of a suffering child or defenseless puppy. But what about having genuine sympathy for a convicted rapist, drug abuser or child molester facing dire consequences entirely brought on by his irresponsible and reckless behavior? At this point, most would adopt the ideal that he is reaping what he has sown. This certainly feels much more emotionally comforting for most because it is practical. Which means any and all sympathy for a “low-life” like this is conveniently abandoned in favor of the emotional satisfaction of feeling like he is getting what he deserves. But if the ideal of sympathy is taken seriously, what could possibly be a better demonstration of it than to have sympathy especially for a dreg like this?

Conversely, if we subscribe to the ideal that one should reap what he sows, there is no reason to have sympathy for a penniless widow if she is penniless because she did not prepare responsibly for this possibility. Are there many people that would not have sympathy for this woman? I would like to think not! My point is that no matter how much we try to act out and uphold ideals, if we do not do so absolutely, our ideals become merely relative. Which means they are not really ideal. They are simply arbitrary based on any given individual's preference.

With this realization then, I must admit I fail to see God as the author of many of our supposed "ideals" and moral convictions. Rather, I see ego as its principle author.

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