"The whole spiritual journey might be summed up as humble hope." Thomas Keating

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Worst Sin

The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them; that's the essence of inhumanity. -- G.B. Shaw
I agree with this.  Human beings are not complete in isolation; we are herd animals.  We need each other in a very profound way and indifference toward others, silencing or isolating others are ways of denying them their humanity.  

Needless to say, this is a sin of which I am guilty.  As much as I hate being invisible, I often fail to see others.  As with so many of my shortcomings, I just have to work on that.


  1. I also agree with this.

    I had a conversation with someone on this subject, not a person in our little fellowship, but someone who is young but quite versed in ethics and philosophy, and he said to me that all people that he comes across must earn his respect, and they are of no particular value to him until they have proven otherwise. I didn't spend much time trying to argue with his position, but I definitely do not agree with him.

    I learned much from my partner who is from a very poor Central American country. When we visit his home we spend time with some of the poorest of the poor in their humble homes, and they always offer us some fruit or tea, when they barely have enough to get through the day. At one point we were walking along a main street and there was a very young boy selling watermelon to people in their cars, and Carlos remarked to me that this was him when he was that age. We'd see tourists shoo away beggers or pretend that they didn't exist, while Carlos would be making friends with them.

    I am not claiming any sainthood on this issue. I walk through the streets of Boston oblivious to the pan handlers, and very skeptical of those approaching me, I try hard to give people the unmerited benefit of dignity and respect.

    1. I couldn't agree more. It is so easy to pretend that the beggars on the street don't exist. To some degree it is understandable because when I do acknowledge them I am faced with the dilemma of what to do, and the answer is usually that I can't do anything useful.
      There is a related sin: not just being indifferent but looking down on people. I'm thinking about that because during a political discussion a friend recently pointed me to the "People of Walmart" web site. The attitude behind the site is very disturbing.