In the famous “Sermon on the Mount,” Jesus had a term for folks that loved to stand in the streets playing to the crowds and drawing attention with public shows of false piety. He called them “hypocrites,” which is the Greek word for play-actor (Ouch, that hurt). He goes on to say that these “play-actors” love to babble on about their beliefs because they think God is sitting in a box seat applauding this theatrical performance. And if they are not playing for God, then they play for an audience of like-minded people.
When the mask of false piety breaks open it often reveals a hidden rage. The voices and faces of rage are all too common, and the selection of rage-inducing topics is vast. Rage is a destroyer. Among many things it destroys is conversation, and once conversation is destroyed, the aftermath can be brutal.
The art of conversation includes the powerful component of listening. One cannot be yelling and listening at the same time. Language delivered at such heated levels becomes high-decibel gobbledygook. All you are left with is a contorted visual of rage on the human face: swollen visage, popping neck veins, mouths agape, and bulging eyeballs. It is the same physical effect as strangulation only self-induced.
We are complex human beings. The fabric of our souls is woven together with delicate threads. Each time we engage in conversation with someone, especially someone who does not necessarily think and believe like we do, we add a deeper layer of human connection and take a step closer to losing ourselves for the sake of each other.
There is a spiritual component at play here. It is more than just reaching across the divide. It is a giving up or losing of oneself. It is self-sacrifice. Jesus said if you want to find yourself, you have to lose yourself. It is a divine paradox that defies all manner of personal vanities, defies all the raging for those self-important rights and entitlements we think we deserve. The way to expand our world is to think less of ourselves, to be curious about each other, to ponder the beauty of another soul, and listen.