If it is not right do not do it; if it is not true do not say it.
– Marcus Aurelius
In this month in the past weeks, I have been following the Proverbs each day and found out one particular theme that jumps out at me as if it were the only thing written in the book: How the wise deal with rebuke as opposed to the fool.
In the Proverbs the fool comes in two parts, firstly as the person who is a rebel, any act against God, His laws or even those that the general public follow but are established by God; secondly as someone that is genuinely void of any wisdom, knowledge or understanding. Now depending on the context the word (fool) is used, it is either the one or the other.
During moments every now and then spent with my dad, arguments about trivial things came up. Sadly it would all break into, in my opinion, a very unnecessary lecture. Why was it unnecessary? It may contain nuggets of true, precious and valuable wisdom but the thing is, I pay more attention to body language than statements. I would make my choice to heed his counsel or not depending on what (I felt) his motive was. If he spoke in love, I could easily sense that in the tone of voice and the look in his eyes, however, most times neither would indicate so, hence, the more likelihood of me forgetting what he said.
The other reason of course is the number of times he repeated himself after making his point. As I said in my earlier post, being lectured (or corrected/rebuked) is something I experienced a lot last year. Extremely little information was of great value to me because it was not spoken in love. Even sincere and intense anger fuelled out of concern and love is something easy to sense as well. I realize how effective using body language passively is, that is, paying more attention to how someone communicates than what they actually communicate. Is there unity between words and facial expression?
Hear counsel, receive instruction, and accept correction, that you may be wise in the time to come.
I remember in primary school I often got reproved on the right to treat women, how to behave around the White guys, how to address those in authority as far as my culture is concerned and the list goes on. Reading all that one would think that I basically did everything wrong. All my life it felt that way. I have to the harsh whip of constant correction by different people from different places. Up to a certain point in life I realized that I am not only too easily misunderstood, to which I am still to find the reason why, but I basically am in position where the best thing to do is to not only conclude that some, not all, people have a general hesitant disliking towards me, but also fight my way through any misconceptions anyone may have about me. Some times I do think about the accusations, no matter how small, but most times I disregard them.
Give instruction to a wise man and he will be yet wiser; teach a righteous man (one upright and in right standing with God) and he will increase in learning.
Matter Of Choice
Someone said something that is quite interesting: It’s easier to advise than be advised. Now I will be the first to admit that I have been on the other side of the coin on this (the giving advice). There have been successful results with the recipients giving positive feedback and still remembering the advice! Quality does not come better than that. I have been, however, stuck with the giving-at-the-expense-of-following habit. Some characters in movies and TV shows portray this (Francis Underwood- House of Cards). Slowly but surely I am beginning to take note of the whole practice what you preach thing. Thanks to that I keep it mind when I am being given advice too. Now I realize that the choice to take the advice makes all the difference. Just like general information, advice is simply information given to you from someone else’s perspective of your situation. This means I can decide which part of the advice to follow and also see whether or not someone else agrees with what the previous person said without prior info on what they said, although that applies more to me seeking advice. More often than not I split up auto-advice simply because I am deprived the opportunity to choose the necessity of receiving the advice. In the end I believe becoming wiser when you are rebuked and corrected is a matter of choice. Choice made from an intellectual perspective rather than emotional.