the stipulation

child African..

“And so what is there to regret if, seeking good, we misjudge and stumble and fall?”

Seeking good.

I don’t often talk religion on my blog — I have too many questions about it (the man-made institution, not God) — but one thing my Christian upbringing impressed upon me is that mankind in inherently evil. We are sinful by nature (thanks, Eve) and must fight our selfish tendencies every day.

This is something I have struggled with. When I see pictures of small children all over the world, “evil” is not the first that comes to my mind. And yet I have seen, too, how my friends have had to teach their children to “share” and “be nice” to others. I myself told my mother I hated her when my little brother was born. I was not even three!

And certainly there is evidence of mankind’s potential for cruelty around us in the world every day. A single glance at the new headlines would indicate that I am crazy for saying “our hearts are good.” How can that be?

And here’s where I think it can. I think it starts early. I think it starts with a choice. Even in the worst possible circumstances, with the worst possible role models, children (we) have the ability to recognize right from wrong. And we have the ability to choose what to do with it. Will we choose what is easiest and what seems to have the most immediate advantages? Or will we choose what our hearts are telling us — “Go! Run! Stop! Do it!” — which may or may not be to our liking?

The minute we choose to stop listening to our hearts, our entire lives can become reason for regret. Because it’s all downhill from there.

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Note: I am taking off for Tennessee tomorrow! Jon and I will packing up his stuff and driving across country, so I may be absent from the blogging world for a short time. I miss you all already!

Image: africanliberty.org

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14 thoughts on “the stipulation

  1. Amen to that. We all know what is good, but so many lusts for power or fortune to drag us down. Every minute we can choose to be selfish or selfless, but it is often harder to be good, and easier just not to care.

  2. 1stpeaksteve says:

    I am in the same boat. My views make my fellow Christian types cringe. That is because some where along the line in my life; I became analytical. So when someone tells me “A” is a fact and the application or rules of “A” do not add up…an alarm sounds. I refuse to just accept it blindly.

    So I just have to go by what I believe about Jesus and what is universally right and wrong for man kind. In my opinion, the hatred that comes out of rigid thought is equal no matter what religion you believe in…or don’t at all. A radical is a radical and will use religion to suppress and harm others.

  3. demonsking19 says:

    Actually,we muslims have this same concept, “All sons /daughters of Adam are sinners,But best of them are those,who repent” . Lol we all are sinners,Mother Eve has nothing to do with it,Adam and Eve both made a Mistake,And this is how we are different from Angels,Angels are Sinless,they dont sin so what do they have to repent,So God created Humans,With the nature to commit sin and when we repent,Seek forgiveness,God is Glorified by FOrgiving us,As he call him self Merciful And complete his mercy on us by Forgiving when we repent .
    I Love the Picture in the Post.

  4. anawnimiss says:

    Couldn’t agree more. Guidance or no guidance, we always know what’s right. The right choice may be, like Sreejit says, a hard choice, but it’s always just that: a choice!

  5. Mabel Kwong says:

    Evil. All of us has the potential to be evil. I guess evil comes in different magnitudes: laughing at your brother falling over. Calling that classmate some hurtful name. Putting a pin on the teacher’s chair. Jumping queues. But you’re right, we all have a choice in every situation we’re in. I think for most of us, we have the intentions of being good or at least decent people. Maybe it depends on how much we care about others as to how we react to something.

  6. Tell yourself something long enough, and it becomes the truth. We’ve told ourselves we’re beyond hope for quite long enough, I think, and the world around us is the unfortunate result. It’s time to change up the narrative: maybe if we start telling ourselves we’re at bottom full of good, two thousand years from now, we’ll be showing the results of that instead…

    • Jessica says:

      There is a lot of truth to what you say, Vance. We are what we think. Or become that way. The key, then, is to think positively and believe we really can and do make a difference.

  7. oldironhoss says:

    Safe travels my friend –
    We are inherently good – or pre-destined for evil genetically –
    Bottom line is our Father loves us all equally -

  8. Dalo 2013 says:

    Seeking good. That is a beautiful way to put it… Hopefully humans will evolve to the extent where the pettiness in the world that leads to so much misery will be replaced by a society that allows everyone to reach their/our full potential. A dream that I think everyone has (the good side), but until we can take this other side of the human mind, we make due…

    Until then, just keep following your heart and seeking good :-)

    • Jessica says:

      Glad you agree, Randall. Unfortunately it seems to me that mankind often seems to evolve the opposite direction of good… But not all of us. And that gives me hope.

  9. Ooooooo my! Jess, you probably know I could not resist jumping on & commenting on this post! LOL

    Perhaps no surprise, I challenge your first premise in the first paragraph. *wink*
    For the sake of my time and your’s, I am SO HAPPY you distinguished, right off the bat, man-made institutions versus a “higher power.” And with that huge broad brush-stroke, you have wiped out tons of (unnecessary?) debate and discourse that more often than not, leads to emotional outbursts. LOL

    But at the same time you’ve wonderfully thrown the mystery of ‘higher order’ into revelations, or the ability to interpret revelations. The human race may never discover the source of ‘righteous’ revelations because the reception of them is SO influenced by our individual experiences from the moment we pop out of the womb. And there, at that moment of first breath, is where I diverge from Christian scripture, teaching, and practices. It is NOT sin (or total depravity) that causes humans to become evil/bad, but TWO probable sources: #1 — as newborns up to adolescence, WE ARE NEEDY humans for mere survival! And #2 — how needy (selfish, egotistical) we become is determined in great part is effected by our parents, family, and community for the remainder of our lives. With both of those factors, I see VERY LITTLE inherent evil, or total depravity.

    And then, even if a child grows up with fortunate parental, familial, and community influences, there is STILL the possibility that biologically, or neurologically, or anatomically they will have a disorder or malignant growth no one had any idea about, e.g. Charles Whitman, the 1966 University of Texas gunman, who was posthumously diagnosed with glioblastoma tumor that could have likely prohibited Whitman from controlling his emotions (rage) and actions, but the autopsy is inconclusive today due to practices in 1966. Whitman also had family and marital problems. So why does a loving God allow these types of pre-natal or post-natal defects, actions, or environmental influences to happen at the expense of innocent victims and lives? Another discussion for another time, huh? LOL

    Thought provoking post Jess! Thank you! *grin*

  10. Aah! Jess, you restore my faith in humanity.

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