Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Week of August 13, 2017

I began the discussion last week with a basic concept: greatness is, essentially, decency at its max. So we continue the task of unpacking that concept.  For me, there are at least four folds in the pack.  This week, the first fold of decency:

Everyone is Important.

Duh, right?  What decent person doesn't believe that everyone is important?  "Love others as you love yourself," "Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you," "God is love"; we all know these.  Sure, decent people know these teachings and would probably say they try living by these.  But we're looking at greatness.

Emails--could there exist a more time-consuming way of communication?  The beauty of handwriting is that it requires time, skill, and leaves a trace of one's personal traits.  We type our emails, however, on a common template, using a common script, and with no trace of personal traits, except what the receiver's own presumption brings to bear.  Efficiency was probably the idea behind email.  Were humans mere machines, email, along with other technology, would achieve that end.  By removing the humanity from our written exchanges, though, we've actually decreased the quality of our correspondences.  Unfortunately, we've also increased the number of less quality correspondences.  The point: most decent people would readily say that everyone is important.  I'm one of those; yet I recently became mindful of my own lack of quality correspondences.  Email, I found, and thus the treatment of its sender, became important only if I had something to gain from the correspondence.  Actually, that's a prudent way for the body and brain to conserve energy.  But it's as unprincipled as it is efficient.

This is where the soul must intervene.  Greatness is decency at its max, and the first fold of decency is the principle that everyone is important.  So I applied this to email.  The body and brain resist full-force.  Why? because it's slow, inefficient, and yields no apparent fruit to give each email and its sender the full integrity of your consideration.  Living by this principle, however, is a long-term investment of decency in a bond of greatness.  Imgaine how your daily email practice would change if every single email got the same amount of attention and concern that you'd give to a letter from a pen pal, both in reading and in responding.  Think about it.  When you type out the shortest of your emails, don't you expect that someone will at least read it?  More than that, because we are innately self-centered, we expect they'll grasp onto every character typed or at least put a comparable amount of energy into reading it as we put into typing it.  Yet how we blow off or mindlessly skim most messages in our inbox.

So I'm experiementing of late.  This is not, in the least, a public service announcement about better email etiquette.  No: it's a way to practice; a way to invest some decency into that goal of greatness; it's simply one way to live out the principle that everyone is important.

Each of the folds of decency, the four principles we're dealing with, revolve around a particular hub: I must decrease.  Until and unless "I" do, the other can never become important to me.  Email really doesn't matter--unless, by email, I'm playing out my absorbtion of self and fail to give another their due importance.  Most likely, if I'm doing it in my email, I'm doing it everywhere.  Now email really matters.

Everyone is important.  To live out this principle, to invest this bit of decency into an overarching end of human greatness, I must decrease.

Next week, we'll consider another principle: Joy is in others.

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