Friday, May 26, 2006

Loving another's character defects

I recently have been focussing a lot on my character defects-- taking something of an inventory of what's good about me and what could, in my eyes, be improved. This is not an easy process; some parts of my personality are not easy for me to look at, some I like even though they cause me trouble, and some I actually forget about until they get me into trouble.

When I consider the changeable and uncontrollable nature of my own personality, why do I have so much trouble accepting the character defects of other people? Often the people I love the most have predictable and well-defined characteristics that make me insane. If I cannot control the foibles of my character that I seem compelled to follow, why do I expect others to control theirs to suit my liking?

So I've been trying to practice seeing others' characteristics as part of them, and loving them for those characteristics.

With some people it is extremely easy: when my son starts to act like Veruca Salt, I can smile a little, see it as characteristic of his age, and try to give him some guidance through the clever use of parenting.

With others it is not so easy-- what about my friend who is always angry? Can I love him for that and not condition my love for him on my desire for him to change?

What about my President? The message I get from my spiritual teachings is that I should try to love him-- and I should also try to love Bin Laden. How do I love their character defects? And yet it is essential for my personal growth and well-being that I try. The fact is that the President has no idea what I think of him. But *I* know, and the feelings I get about him sometimes remove me from the sunlight of the spirit. And that hurts me-- my own inability to love the President's character defects hurts me.

I feel I'll be working on this for a while.

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