I’m reading this book right now called Mistakes were Made but not by Me and it is changing the way I interact with people and view them from a distance. We can be quick to judge someone who does something ridiculous, or believes something ridiculous. For example, if someone believed that aliens abducted him then we all would laugh and write them off as being crazy. Rightfully so, but what we never ask ourselves is how/why they have that belief. We make our entire judgment based on what their belief is. Overtime we start to see that most of us are simply just not logical. We create memories, we justify actions and we project what we want to be true onto almost every situation that we are part of. The entire book is about the idea of why we justify foolish beliefs, bad decisions and hurtful acts.
Here is what I’m coming to grips with from the help of this book; we justify absolutely everything. I think that we are inherently good and that we long to do the good and right thing. Just like our first humans, Adam and Eve, the sin that we commit isn’t just simply doing something that is wrong or forbidden. It is taking a bad thing and twisting it up with all sorts of good and noble motives and then spitting it back out as a good thing. That’s when it gets complicated. Adam and Eve were tempted with what seemed like (and very well could be) good and righteous things. Knowing good and evil, not dying and being like God aren’t exactly the worst things to desire. So all the foolish decisions we make on a day to day basis I’d would have to wager that we just honestly do not think they are foolish. For the person who does a foolish thing, knowing that they are foolish, then I think you are the exception, and this little article isn’t about you.
Who, especially Christians, would say listen, I know this is wrong in what I’m about to partake in, or purchase or buy, but I’m going to do it anyway. No excuses, I am just straight up going to do this wrong action. I have never in my life heard anyone say that. The closest I’ve seen is someone say something along the lines of that they know this might not be the best way and then offer a slew of reasons as to why they are going to do it. Eventually all those reasons eventually lead the person to believe that it is the right thing to do.
So for example. Let’s say you were debating to sell your entire CD collection and give the money to a family you know who is struggling for groceries. When the idea first pops into your head, you might think, wow, that is a great idea, that is the noble and right thing to do. Then what happens though is that over time, you just really don’t want to sell all your CDs. So instead of just stopping with the philosophical games there and admitting that the right thing to do would be to sell your CDs and you’re just not going to do it you start to justify and make up reasons why it is actually the wrong thing to do to sell your CDs. You say things like hand-outs don’t actually help anyone and you don’t want to prolong their misery. Or that you deserve those CDs, or that those CDs actually mean something important to you and that you’ll just buy them a few groceries later on down the road. By the end of the situation you have gone from it being the right thing to do, to being the wrong thing to do, and the only real thing that has changed is your desire. You have completely changed your moral compass based simply on your desire.
We all do this. I honestly believe that if we actually thought something was wrong, then we just wouldn’t do it. Or if we actually thought something was right, then we would do it. Very few of us are meek enough to say “I hold the belief that swearing is a poor choice and is not best practice, but I swear anyway.” No excuses, just admitting that our life does not line up to our beliefs. I would much rather have someone admit that they are a hypocrite and that their actions do not line up to their beliefs than have someone constantly changing their beliefs to accommodate their actions. Here is what I think best practice is to be a truly humble and meek Christian. Look into your life and realize your flaws, or have your best friend do it for you. Things will come up like we waste way too much, we drink too much, we destroy the environment without giving it a second thought, we shop way too much, we don’t make anytime for those that are less fortunate, we judge everyone we meet for the first time….and instead of making any excuses at all, not even one. Just admit it. Say yup, I am those things.
I think with this honest approach to our lives we will start to see a lot more peace. Sounds odd to make that connection but I see how it can work. When people can admit they are wrong, and they aren’t in the right at times, without needing to justify their way out of their bad decisions, it makes it a lot easier to just be in a relationship. If I’m constantly making excuses for my bad eating habits (i’m too busy, i don’t like healthy food etc) then not only do I just keep eating poorly but I now have changed my philosophy about eating to fit how I do those things. Instead, what if I just said “I have bad eating habits.”
It’s odd even ending a paragraph like that, because we want resolve, we want reasons for the bad things we do. Admitting who we really are, being humble and having an honest approach about our own misgivings will go a long way for how we live and also for our theology. No longer will our theology be shaped by how we live and the poor decisions we make but instead our actions begin to be shaped by our theology.