from William Wordsworth's "Resolution and Independence"

My former thoughts returned: the fear that kills;
And hope that is unwilling to be fed;
Cold, pain, and labour, and all fleshly ills;
And mighty Poets in their misery dead.
--Perplexed, and longing to be comforted,
My question eagerly did I renew,
"How is it that you live, and what is it you do?"

Monday, March 5, 2012

No Judgment: The Uncounted Sacrifice

from The Broken American Male: and How to Fix Him
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

The broken American male is doubly tragic. Tragic because he lives an uninspired life, seeing himself as a failure, and tragic because all along, for the most part, he is actually a hero. In reality he is a man of considerable unsung greatness. He is the only one who never sees it.

The average broken American male, who punishes himself for being a loser, goes out every day and kills himself to feed his children. He gets up at the crack of dawn, sits in traffic, takes abuse from bosses, works to tight deadlines, and travels on red-eyes, all in a effort to support his family. He compromises his dignity to sell his wares.  He will accept the abuse of customers in order to do his job and take home a paycheck. He struggles with temptation yet comes home to his wife and tries his best to remain faithful. He gives his hard-earned money to complete strangers in charitable gifts.  He thanks G-d for his blessing and prays and goes to church or synagogue.  By every meaningful definition of honor and nobility, he is a great man, sacrificing of himself so that others might profit. Only he can't see it, because he has absorbed the poisons lie that because none of this will end up in a newspaper, because none of it will give him the money for a palace in the Hamptons, because it won't earn him an invitation to spend the night in the Lincoln Bedroom, it just doesn't matter.

p 63-64

Rabbi Boteach gives more support and reason to the idea that we should not judge ourselves.  We lack both the context and the distance from the subject that is necessary to any carefully reasoned judgment.  We have no perspective, no ability to evaluate the criteria by which judgment should occur--we know only the most basic black and white of the subject matter--enough to know whether what we've done constitutes sinful or moral behavior (most of the time).

Judgment belongs to God.  If we leave it to Him, we relieve ourselves of the myriad unnecessary burdens that often accompany it.

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