Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Bad Self-Portrait & the Mirror

Recently, I heard a quote, "Intentions don't matter. Only results." 

We should stop and think about that line for a few moments. It's harsh. Direct. Unyielding.

"I meant to spend time with my family. I wasn't trying to offend them. I wanted to love my wife better." I used to hear a line all the time during my years as a pastor, "They mean well."

This may be best identification of evil there is. Yes, I wrote "evil". This is a word we are typically only comfortable apply to Hitler, Stalin, and terrorist but, once applied to anyone we know, we shy away from it- not wishing to pass judgment. However, when Hitler woke up in the morning he did not twist his weird tiny mustache, cackle to himself, and rub his hands together whilst gleefully planning the next stage of his pogrom. He woke up, looked at himself in the mirror, and said, "I am doing these things for the greater good." and never questioned his actions because he was convinced of his intentions.

Evil people are the greatest of all self-deluders. The evil do not look in the mirror, they paint a false portrait and then claim it is their reflection. They know their actions and history but masterfully excuse each disaster by denying its existence, denying responsibility, or denying their motives in the first place.

After evil people have successfully lied to themselves, lying to everyone else is an easy task because the very person they are presenting to the world is an enormous lie. This is why evil people, by and large, are, socially, very nice people (hence Hitler was named Time's "Man of the Year"). They have to be because they are continuously trying to manipulate other peoples' perception of themselves to match the lie they tell themselves every morning when they get up.

The only time you will see the true inner demon of an evil person is if anyone attempts to stand in front of their "self-portrait" with a mirror and show them what they are truly like. At this point they will follow three predictable steps: 1. deny, deny, deny. 2. claim that the refection is an interesting perspective on what is happening (negotiating with the person holding it). 3. viciously attack the person holding the mirror.

The most evil people I know I have found in the most respectable of social circles and, most certainly, in church buildings. All of society understands that the true value in respectable social circles is "being nice". Therefore, these circles are also typically self-deluding. This is why such quotes as, "I don't trust a man who doesn't drink." from John Wayne ring so true to many of us who have known people who touted such "values" as teetotalling only to have other wild, far more serious, moral failings come to light later.

By no means do any of us have a complete, objective, view on ourselves but by looking at our current and past relationships and listening to friends that tell us the painfully and difficult truth we can question our own motives and admit, publicly and openly, our faults.

If you don't care for that method of living perhaps I can recommend a paint store so you may officially begin your self-portrait. You can call it a mirror. 


Anonymous said...

There is a lot to be said for getting a reality check from friends and family. However, there is not one person on this earth who will not fail us at some time or another. That is why we need to keep our eyes on Christ, who never fails us. There are some scriptures that I love to use for "reality checks." They are found in Hebrews through Jude. I go to them to take an honest look at my spiritual life. I also go to them when I am tempted to judge someone too quickly. One time, when I was in my early years of marriage, my friends and I were somewhat critical of the older members of our church. It got to the point that we would say things critical about their actions or even lack of actions. We thought that they were unloving, unbending, and several other things that I won't mention. One evening, an elderly lady whom my friends and I respected greatly, invited us to her home for some wonderful food and fellowship. Very tactfully, she brought the conversation around to our critical attitude about others at church. She explained to us the reasons behind the attitudes and actions of others. We began to see for the first time in our young, adult lives that there were church people older than ourselves who were also committed followers of Christ and that what we were doing was very hurtful to the Body of Christ. This lady helped us to look at those around us, both inside and outside the church, as indivduals whom Christ died for. I am so thankful for that lady taking time to talk to us. God is so patient with us, and we need to show that patience to others.

Hebrews 12:14
Pursue after peace with all men, and after the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.

Devin The PoetWarrior said...

Great observation! When I was younger I definitely felt that the seniors were all sticks in the mud who only wanted their own way- just like yourself.

Each generation feels it has reinvented the way to interact with God and their predecessors- wisely- try and tell them that their perspective is not the only one.

However, this is not exactly what I was trying to convey in this piece though. Honesty is not generational nor does gossip have a demographic. A friend of mine posted just this morning that, "Evil occurs when men turn to God without turning from themselves."

I am not saying people who "fail" us are evil- I am saying people who manipulate their own perspective of themselves are. The justification of wrong actions or attitudes is absolutely a primary sign or this.