The importance of discernment

I am spending a few days at a discussion forum on the global common good. There are some very interesting people here including three young people who are part of the Pathway out of Poverty campaign of the Goedgedacht Trust (If you are looking for a worthy cause to support look no further – link to their website is here).

On the first day these three young people shared their vision for ‘a good life’. All of them focused on family, community and good relationships. Many of us in the room were struck by this, especially coming from people who had grown up in poverty. But as I reflect on their responses and the responses in the room, I wonder.

I suspect that the vast majority of people would say that relationships are the most important thing. The problem is, that for far too many of us, our actions fail to support this. On a daily basis we make choices which compromise relationship rather than nourish it. And we always have a very good reason for making that choice. But we fail to notice the erosion of relationships over time. We fail to notice that we are not, in fact, prioritising relationships.

Of course, we do need to be wise here, we cannot prioritise all relationships. We have to single out the very small number (usually one’s nuclear family) who should receive such focus. But how often do we trespass on the good will of precisely those closest to us, in order to achieve some minor step up. Or, even worse, to keep up appearances for our bosses, church communities or charitable organisations. What are we doing?

We need to be discerning. We need to pay attention to the impact of our choices over time. It is far too easy to get distracted by the many many good things could be done, sacrificing the better along the way.

One thought on “The importance of discernment

  1. The most inspiring women I have met lived in the slums near Delhi and Madras. In Madras, particularly, where they were members of the Women’s Working Forum, a micro-banking coop. There I realised that these women did not want to rise above the others, but to the rise with the others. Their escape from poverty was minimal in a way, just enough to walk away from the clutches of the pawn-brokers…
    So yes, I can imagine the three young people coming to share their vision of life with all of you. It being so ‘real’ and true and selfless and inspiring… Maybe this is why Jesus loved so much the little ones…
    Thank you for reminding me of this.

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