Listen to the speaker’s “good talks”, but do not follow the speaker’s “bad walks”

Listen to the speaker’s “good talks”, but do not follow the speaker’s “bad walks”

Matthew 23:1-12. The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses

Sometimes, we humans do not walk our talk. We have heard countless horror stories coming from moral authorities and ethicists preaching what is supposed to be right, but their actions are not right. Sometimes it is unintentional given our flaws; but what is wretched is when politicians rely on appearances and perceptions without good actions that justify what they talked about. This is the very meaning of bullshit — without regards to truth, only to one’s appearance.

(This is why I’ve grown to think that the intentional BS-er is the true enemy of the authentic, rather than the liar. At least, the liar cares for the truth, but intends to veer the listener away from it. The BS-er does not care at all, and it makes the BS-er more dangerous.)

As someone who is in the teaching profession, my fear is that I could be inconsistent or inauthentic. The pressure is real when I discuss ethics and claim a more mature or to be a moral authority as a teacher — what if I’m just an impostor?

This is why it is important for listeners to be critical. If I say something wise but do otherwise, does that negate the wisdom of what I said? Not at all. Thus, it is important for the listener to discern, to critique; and for the one speaking, to be open to criticism and dialogue.

As I write these reflections, I may be “talking my talk”. At the same time, I know how difficult it is to “walk my talk”. Posting these reflections publicly in my Facebook wall and in my blog is a pressure. But at the same time, I think, feel, and believe that there is power in honing my craft while contemplating on my spirituality.

I recently listened to the recent reflections of Jordan B. Peterson and his drifting away from atheism. It seems that he is beginning to embrace a more theistic view of the world through Christianity. And he mentioned the importance of authenticity, i.e., consistency and integrality, in words and actions. I admire how he tries to be as precise as he can when he articulates his beliefs; he tries to fully mean what he says and he acknowledges the limitations of his claims and beliefs.

The scribes and the Pharisees may be hypocrites, but they are still capable of speaking and writing about what is good. Business persons, PR specialists, and politicians may be masters at greenwash, but there is still some good to be derived from the pristine image they try to project.

The challenge is for the audience to adopt a more active role — paying proactive attention, rather than waiting to be passively stimulated by spectacle. Listen to the speaker’s “good talks”, but do not follow the speaker’s “bad walks”.


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