In a meeting or on the phone….
Note: This is not a post that is written in response to national or regional politics. Though there may be some tangential connections, my thoughts here are directed at interactions with people who are speaking to you or to a group with which you have elected to gather in order to listen to them. This is not about our responses to soundbites and debates in the news media or our responses to the individuals who show up in those soundbites and debates. That is fodder for another post.
Recently I sat in a meeting where a woman that I dearly love spoke of truths I understand.
I have noticed that when I love a well-meaning person who is speaking at a meeting or in a personal conversation, the virtuous positions they espouse sink more deeply into my heart than when I am reserved in my affection for him or her. And, similarly, when listening to someone I dearly love espouse understanding that I think is seriously flawed, I am more easily able to forgive and and not be overwhelmed with sorrow, anger or dismay over the less virtuous positions he or she may advocate than when I am reserved in my affection, and, from there, simply continue on wisely and well in what I understand to be wisest and best.
So, I am learning, brotherly love not only increases my ability to recognize and embrace what is wise and good, but it also increases my ability to proceed in that good path wisely and confidently, minimally upset by misguided and wrong statements pronounced by someone who means well but does not understand or even rejects the good that I understand.
Therefore, when I am seated in a meeting, or am in a conversation, listening to a well-meaning person who doesn’t understand the goodness or virtue that I understand and love, if I feel my anger and frustration levels rising, or my sorrow start to become overwhelming, I may wish to take stock of my personal commitment to the development and practice of brotherly love.
I have learned that though anger or angst or dismay may impel me to higher levels of energy, brotherly love gives me greater ability to proceed, undisturbed, in the course I understand to be wisest, most virtuous and best with greater effectiveness and with calm confidence when someone who I think should know better because of the evidence and information they have, rejects that course.
“Let thy bowels be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God…”
Doctrine and Covenants 121:45
Confidence in what you believe is good, maintained in a soul committed to brotherly love, I have found, is more effective, unperturbable, and empowering than confidence in what you believe is good mixed with angst, dismay, frustration or anger brought on because you have not yet chosen brotherly love in a relationship with someone who is espousing what you believe is a very wrong course. Charity towards all, regardless of the presence or total absence of mutual comprehension, does, it seems, directly affect your ability to move forward with calm, unaffected confidence.
As a side note, over 40 years ago a teacher once asked why I thought the phrase “and to the household of faith” was in that verse, above, in Doctrine and Covenants 121 that speaks of waxing strong in confidence as one pursues a virtuous course of thinking and action. Why mention that household when that subset is already part of the set of “all men”. I have thought about that question many times.
I think I understand better now why that is there.