Thursday, November 6, 2014

Horses, Donkeys and Mules

Sometimes I wake up with words in my brain, as if my sleeping self knows some stuff that my waking self needs to remember. This morning it was a sentence: the fall from a high horse can take your breath away. Well, I said to my sleeping self, what makes you think I'm on a high horse? Sigh. Doh. Most times when I'm so sure I'm right about something that I actually pity the one who doesn't see the truth that I see, bells and sirens should actually be going off to warn me of a coming fall. Do I learn from past experiences as far as humility goes? Sometimes. But, evidently, I'm not done with that lesson because it keeps popping back up.

I used to think that the people who knew the most were the ones who were the smartest. Then I began to notice that the same people who had a vast storehouse of acquired knowledge were sometimes light in the common sense area. Or the creative one. Or the philosophical one. Or they can't fathom how to have a relationship. I came to understand that there are many kinds of intelligence. Athleticism is a kind of intelligence. Some things we call talents are, quite simply, a kind of intelligence. How great it would be if our society valued them all. How great it would be if the teacher who can ignite the imaginations of children was seen as every bit as valuable as the home run hitter. Or the tech support people who can listen to our complaints and figure out a solution with their eyes closed. How about the dancer who holds choreography in their brain for dozens of dances that are never the same, never to be repeated after this performance? Or the musician who can sight read, transpose, memorize thousands of notes. How about the illustrator who reads some words and expands them into a visual representation? You get my drift.

What does this have to do with a high horse? What if we all remembered that the people we encounter everywhere are just as intelligent as we are? What if we knew that the football player who just showed incredible skill, but bad grammar in the after-game interview, was just as intelligent as we are on our best day? What if the politician who said something we desperately disagreed with was given the same dignity to have an opinion that we want for ourselves? That is a toughy for me. There are some people who sound so thoroughly ignorant that I can't really give them the respect I want for myself. But I don't know them. I don't see how they hold their children or sit beside their spouse or mother in a hospital room. I don't see their souls. I can't. But I can't afford to assume I'm better than they are. It is a high, high horse a long, long way from the ground. I can disagree with them. I can even dislike them. But feeling superior is a bad idea.

No matter what you believe about Jesus, he was certainly a model of humility. No prancing stallion for him. He rode a donkey.

Today, when I think about what is real and what is perceived, I want to stay off the horse. If I can't quite manage a donkey, I'll for sure try for the mule. The mule and I are kindred spirits, after all. A little stubborn. Something my sleeping self seems to know better than my walking self.

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