Many things in our life are at stake in our actions. In our actions and behaviour, we see reflected, or not, our words and values. What we call consistency or social credibility depends on our acts.
Just as every father and mother know, they cannot avoid the task of teaching some important values to their children by demonstrating that their actions are explicit expressions of their words. Indeed, we all must face the challenge of being consistent with our words and statements.
The problem is that as bad as it weighs us, rarely one turns out to be consistent with oneself. That is why the poet Cavafis reminded us of our fallible nature years ago:
He swears from time to time to
Begin a better life
Whenever though the night comes
With its own counsellings,
With its own compromises
And its own undertakings;
But whenever the night comes
With its own domination,
Of the body that wills and wants, to that same
Fatal enjoyment, lost, he goes again
The compulsion to repeat mistakes and surrender to what we know keeps us from being consistent with ourselves, with our words, affirmations, and promises. That obstacle defines us much better than our permanent falls, failures and lack of public and private consistency.
As if on the surface of an ancestral magma, we walk oblivious to what happens under our feet. We think we know who we are when the most we can intuit is, sometimes, where our inclinations will take us. That nocturnal dialogue with our desires that honest and bare negotiation seems to be the only thing we have within our reach. It’s rare to find someone who knows themselves. Even more so, someone who can demonstrate it to others consistently with their actions. They are two different things and the same, as we have seen. But sometimes, it happens.
On one occasion, Alexander the Great found himself in the middle of a river in India in pursuit of the enemy army. Suddenly he realised he was alone in the middle of the river; his soldiers had not entered the river and were watching him from the shore. The river water was freezing. Alejandro turned around, sighed wearily, and, looking at them, he yelled: “Do you realise the things I have to do to make you respect me?”
What we miss today is the kind of respect and esteem that comes from the example someone offers us through their actions.
It is not the novelty of slogans or scientific data that teaches young people who march in a rally for the environment or against racism. Rather, it is the behaviour of those who have tempered the inclinations Kavafis wrote about. People who teach us through their actions are the ones that should guide us in our collective actions. As someone once said, “by their fruits, you will know them”.
Now that rallies in favour of migrants and refugees are being organised, let us keep a close eye on our own consistency with the values of dialogue and democracy, the respect we show for those around us and the consistency and character with which we act our lives. Every day.
Photo Sebastian silva https://a-visual-diary-for-tomorrow.tumblr.com/
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