Sunday, April 21, 2013

Paradoxical Commandment #2
People often assume the worst of others.  We judge too quickly, assigning motive to actions with little to no information.  Then, when true facts arrive, the unfortunate strength contained within first impressions cements our original impressions despite evidence to the contrary.  Conversely, the same actions affect other people’s view towards us.

Dr. Kent M. Keith’s second Paradoxical Commandment stands to battle the reality of the above paragraph.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.  Do good anyway.
The definition of “good” fluctuates based on perspective.  What I perceive as good may not be the same as you.  People with shared cultural values tend to believe in similar “good,” but not always.  Just take a look at the political landscape of the last few years.  Though Republicans and Democrats claim to work towards the highest good for our country, they quickly decry anything the other party presents as “good” for the country, accusing each other of selfish and ulterior motives.

The same can be seen on platforms as immense as the geopolitical landscape or as tiny as inter-office politics.  The human inclination towards distrust clouds our judgement.  Dr. Keith suggests ignoring negative opinion, or at the very least acknowledging and summarily dismissing its existence, continuing with actions in which we find inherent goodness.

This commandment contains two powerful suggestions - do good no matter what, and don't worry about what other people think.  Acting in this spirit helps to move you forward on solid footing. believe in the contagion of good actions.  Good breeds good.  One good turn deserves another.  Pay it forward.  No matter the collection of words, the intent and meaning carries truth and power.  Despite how others may view your actions, and no matter the size, the inherent truth and goodness contained within infects others.  Soon, through consistent good action, your life changes.  You become contagious.  You infect others.  Goodness spreads.  The disease others decried as self-serving becomes the norm instead of the oddity.

Remember, it is none of your business what other people think about you.  All it takes is one action to kickstart it all.

- I first encountered an adapted version of the “Paradoxical Commandments,” titled “The Final Analysis,” while listening to a Wayne Dyer audio CD in my early twenties.  The meaning and message struck me as true, helping guide my thoughts and actions as I developed from a big kid into a real adult.  Later, I discovered the poem was not actually written by Mother Theresa at all, but adapted, framed, and hung on the wall in her Calcutta orphanage.  She cared about its message enough to use it to empower the weak and marginalized children to whom she gave her life.

The Paradoxical Commandments are reprinted with permission.  © Copyright Kent M. Keith 1968, renewed 2001

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