Wednesday, July 06, 2011
Prodigal's Older Brother Syndrome
It occurs to me that one of the reasons we may become judgmental of others who have not made the same decisions or commitments, or are not in the same place on the road home that we are might be this:
If your sense of self-worth is grounded in your ability to comply with the expectations or hopes of someone else (be it God, or a parent, or some other major figure in your life), then you will almost automatically have a psychological need to perceive as less-worthy someone who has not complied with those expected actions. And any intimation that one of those "less compliant" people is loved and forgiven and blessed as much as you are will likely be very unsettling to your own sense of worth. When this is your state of mind, it is easy for your sense of unfairness to overrule your comprehension of mercy and charity.
So really the cure for such a state is not necessarily persuasion that judging is wrong, but rather the education of the mind to understand the reality that the highest we can seek for is not "worthiness" but, rather, complete charity and the embracing, personally, of the principle of mercy.
So disciplining ourselves to value who we intrinsically are, and at that same time, learning to be able to perceive value in the intrinsic natures of others, in all their variety, and not place our sense of self-worth upon what we've achieved may be key to avoiding "Prodigal's Older Brother Syndrome".
Learning how to do this in a world where we are constantly called upon to measure and compare our scores and achievements and decisions with our own previous ones as well as with those of others or with what we perceive as "the ideal", and in communities that reward and laud us accordingly, is no mean feat.