I saw this on a friend's social media timeline recently:
It made me laugh, I’ll admit that. It also made me ponder the duplicity of human personalities. Or am I wrong? Are there humans out there (who are being honest with themselves) who do not have opposing thoughts on similar topics from time to time?
Using the example above, some days I barely notice or care if someone else is using their turn signal or not.
Other days it irks me beyond reason.
The difference? Usually, it is due to my own patience meter: my mood, my circumstance, my level of busyness, my lateness, my poor planning, my current pain level (physical or emotional), etc.
Do I always use my turn signal? I think I do. I try to. I am not perfect. Stop judging me.
Oh. Hmmm. What if, despite my honest attempts to follow traffic laws of all sorts (including signal use)... What if I am the miscreant? When I turn it around like that, it feels different. If someone were to drive past me and flick me off or yell mean things pertaining to my use or non-use of my turn signal, how would I react?
I guess it depends on if I felt I was in the wrong or not. Was I behaving badly? Do I deserve a good telling off? Is it even the other driver’s obligation to notify me that they believe I am a bad driver?
There are so many situations where we are put into a similar position to react (or not react) to others’ (in our opinion) “bad” behavior. There are moral judgments being made all the time, all around you (and probably about you). These public evaluations of the rightness or wrongness of others’ behavior - are they a societal necessity?
I do sometimes find it difficult to restrain in commenting (whether silently or not) on (what I perceive as) bad behavior of other adults. Someone offends me - with words, on the road, with their beliefs, etc.... How do I react? Is it my first human instinct to be defensive and react rudely? Pass the blame?
I don’t always have the restraint I need at the time I need it. I know how I should respond.
I should exercise patience, kindness, and forgiveness, but sometimes I cannot help thinking...
Now, can I justify this line of thinking as a Christian? No. If I say more, I am trying to excuse myself. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop me from occasional jerkiness. I am reminded of this quote from a classic:
“There is no religion without love,
and people may talk as much as
they like about their religion, but
if it does not teach them to be good
and kind to man and beast,
it is all a sham.”
― Anna Sewell, Black Beauty
I have to admit it is difficult to not misrepresent Christianity with my reactive behaviors in regard to other people’s (what I feel) bad behavior. There needs to be a general understanding that humans are all sinners, Christians included. We all have behaved badly at some point, right? As a Christian, it is my daily objective to not willfully continue in sin.
1 John 1:8 If we say that we do not have any sin, we are deceiving ourselves and we’re not being truthful to ourselves.
Proverbs 24:16 for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.
Does this mean that I indeed conform to the moral norms I am so eagerly inclined to enforce in others?
(gulp) Ok I will try. No promises, but consider me a work in progress.
So, when is it ok to comment and react to other humans behaving badly? (I am talking about strangers, here… people driving in cars, shopping in stores, posting on the Internet --- but you do not know them.)
I don’t know. What do you think? I will lean towards an answer such as, “It depends.” I am pretty sure that is not the right answer, though.
Things I try to remember when strangers make me angry or frustrated, etc.:
The sagacity here: Keep yourself in-check. Let God deal with the others.
Let me attempt to clear this up right away: What is sagacity?
First of all, let’s say it correctly: The fancy pronunciation guide shows it like this: sə-ˈga-sə-tē.
I find it easier to illustrate the pronunciation like this: “suh - GAS - ity.”
The word sagacity, according to dictionary.com, is a noun commonly defined as the acuteness of mental discernment and soundness of judgment. Some synonyms of sagacity include: discernment, insight, perception, sageness, sapience, enlightenment, judgment, comprehension and wisdom. Some antonyms of sagacity include: inability, stupidity, misunderstanding, ignorance, mistake, misinterpretation, ineptness
Pardon me for a minute here while I throw in some nerdy-wordy factoids. While I had initially guessed that the root of the word sagacity would be “sage” - meaning wise - it is not. According to Merriam-Webster, Sagacity traces back to sagire, which is a Latin verb meaning “to perceive keenly”. Another word relative of sagacity is the Latin adjective sagus ("prophetic"), which is the ancestor of our verb seek. Contrarily, the word sage comes from a different Latin verb, sapere, which means "to have good taste" or "to be wise."
The meaning suggests having a quickness of perception and sound judgement. A sagacious person has an ability to see the big picture, and to cut through a situation's unimportant fluff to grasp the essentials of a problem's solution.
Why do I seek sagacity? In my core, I have always felt that knowledge is power. Maybe I watched too much tv in the early 90s and the TV public service announcements claiming “The More You Know…” was programmed into me or perhaps my book report on Thomas Jefferson in grade school took root, but whatever the reason, I have always felt comfort in learning. I like to make order out of chaos. My impetus as an educator is to understand in order to be able to evaluate.
I suppose on a worldly level, seeking wisdom serves me in a sense of preparedness. I don’t like to be surprised by the unknown. I am with the chemist Louis Pasteur, who said “Chance favors the prepared mind.” (Another famous quote by this french scientist of the 19th century is “Wine is the most healthful and most hygienic of beverages,” but that is discussion for another time.)
--- An ‘I am only human’ moment --- I’ll be honest, speculation is a personal peeve of mine. I, personally, fear association with ignorance. In my opinion, blurring facts with assumed knowledge or shallow reporting is disrespectful- not only to the subject and content, but to the essence of knowledge and wisdom.
On a spiritual level, my seeking of sagacity is deeper. Sagacity is what helps us understand and see the difference between good and evil, or right and wrong. Therefore, by acquiring and exercising wisdom, we increase our purpose or contentment in leading a life that has a spiritual quality God wants to see in us. While we can never have God's wisdom, we can seek sagacity in our own lives. I also really hate Satan. I want to be able to see past his clever deceptions and follow Christ as He intended me to, and not be an overall jerk.
So many reasons there are to seek truth and knowledge, but ultimately: sagacity is bigger than knowledge. Knowledge is simply knowing, but wisdom or sagacity necessitates perspective and the ability to make sound judgments about a subject. There are so many quotes and sayings comparing and relating these concepts:
Knowledge is being aware of what you can do. Wisdom is knowing when not to do it.
Knowledge is knowing what to say. Wisdom is knowing whether or not to say it.
Knowledge comes from learning. Wisdom comes from living.
Knowledge is realizing that the street is one way. Wisdom is looking both directions anyway.
Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens.
And a favorite...
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
The Bible, especially the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, is filled with timeless advice on the subject. Here is a list of Bible verses about wisdom. My favorite, and perhaps to the point of this blog and my purpose:
A person of understanding delights in wisdom. ~ Proverbs 10:23
I really like digging deep. Here I go, diving off the deep end into a pool of blog water I know nothing about to seek sagacity in an optimistically desperate way. Please join me.
I am Susan. This space holds my own ponderings and observations.