Watch Ourselves Watch Ourselves

Every day and every hour, every minute, walk round yourself and watch yourself, and see that your image is a seemly one. You pass by a little child, you pass by with ugly and spiteful words, with wrathful heart; you may not have noticed the child, but he has seen you, and your image, revolting and godless, may remain in his defenseless heart. You don’t know it, but you may have sown an evil seed in him and it may grow, all because you were not careful before the child, because you did not foster in yourself a careful, actively benevolent love. Love is a teacher; but one must know how to acquire it, for it is hard to acquire, it is dearly bought, it is won slowly by long labor. For we must love not only occasionally, for a moment, but forever.

Fyoder Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

If you were going to read just one book over for the rest of your life, you would not go wrong with The Brothers Karamazov. I refer to the story of the Grand Inquisitor often.

Imagine you’re walking down the street and can see yourself as if from outside yourself. See how you act. What you say. Facial expressions.

Then imagine seeing someone experiencing you. What impact did you make on that person?

That’s what Dostoyevsky saw. And how your act or words could send a child on a wrong path. At least in America we seem to think that we should have the “freedom” or “right” to act and say however we feel whenever we feel. But that is the attitude of an adolescent. As the apostle Paul told us, there is a time for us to grow up and act like mature adults.

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