But as we engage with others, do we allow these passions to make us better, smarter and stronger?
Or do they diminish our essence?
Here are five questions I ask myself in an attempt to be heart-headed instead of hard-headed:
- Have I entertained? Have I entertained people of contrasting opinions–for dinner in my home, or for an honest dialogue in my classroom, church, mosque (or Facebook page)? Have I honestly entertained the possibility that I might be completely wrong, that I might be the product of a political agenda, a socialized mindset, or a man-crafted theology? When I proclaim that something is an inherent right or an infallible truth, on what basis do I do so? Have I really thoroughly examined the evidence and sensibility of it all? We must KNOW why we preach what we preach. The idea that we are adamant and vigilant simply because a writer or a teacher or a preacher has said so, is not enough. Sweet Sunday services or smart classroom discussions can (and should be) transformative, but if they are not rooted in logic, truth and goodness, then they are merely ideas and sentiments, not ingredients for heart-headedness.
- Do I assess or do I attack? When I am challenged, is my first instinct to unleash a tirade of memorized verses or propaganda? In the study of adult development theory in psychology, this notion is often considered to be a central factor in one’s limited worldview. Anyone can stake a claim, but those who seek common ground and understanding, who seek to reach higher levels of consciousness and to identify strategies for real change, are genuinely heart-headed.
- Why is this so important to me? Consider: “The lady doth protest too much, me thinks” (from the third act of Shakespeare’s Hamlet), or “The wicked flee though no one pursues” (from Proverbs 28:1). The point is that an emphatic response often is the result of a trigger that is deep within us. Over and over in history and in modern culture, we have noted that the loudest voices against something tend to be the embodiment of the very thing which they condemn.
- What do I see first? When engaging with someone for the first time, do I consciously or subconsciously first see race or gender? Do I try to determine religious affiliation or sexual identity? Human societies foster and nurture the tendency to seek like-mindedness, but this is dangerous. When we cluster with people who agree with us (online, at Happy Hour, at church), we quickly lose the capacity to think critically and to communicate effectively. We become weaker and lazier than we are meant to be. This precious life is not a vacation to be enjoyed, it’s an opportunity to become, to learn. To be.
- Is my mirror dimly lit? In the iconic Biblical passage about love (1 Corinthians 13), the Apostle Paul included this thought: “For now, we see in a mirror dimly lit.” This is a fantastic reminder that we exist within a limited consciousness, even when examining Self. The mirror on our temporal wall is dimly lit. The notion of human and Divine revelations of love ought to give us pause, and allow us to transcend the confines of fear, of control, and of obsession; to bring us to the renewing of our minds; to such a place that we are transformed; to a knowledge that we are not conformed to this world, nor to this dimly-lit mirror.