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The Power of Ignoble Struggle

December 9, 2014

There are noble struggles: the onslaught of bad weather, illness of oneself and of loved ones, death, war, and so much more.  The stories of how people endured such things encourage us all.  We respect and connect because no matter how hard we try such things happen to us too.

I believe, however, there is even more power in the Ignoble Struggle:  where we, perhaps knowing better, make stupid and/or impulsive mistakes that lead us and people we love into hardship, embarrassment, and depression.  The ignobile struggle garners little respect, yet it too connects us all…we’ve all been there.  It’s in the pretending that we haven’t that allows judgment to rise above grace in such moments.

Our commonality of spirit is sometimes best seen in our tendency towards failure; indeed it becomes the hook for many religions.  Religion offers promise of release from shame, and then, somehow, makes shame all the worse, giving us a new audience to gasp and gossip at our failures.  This judgment however is the failure of the people of religion; actually, the literature of faith is built on the folly of men.  Every significant person in the Bible is first shown as making huge errors, of being rejected for these errors, especially by religious folks, and then followed by the audacity of God who loves and empowers each failing saint as if their bad acts were the very things that redeemed them.

Indeed, it is through our failures and fruitless decisions that we find ourselves at the end of ourselves, left only to grasp at something bigger than we are.  It’s not our success but our failure that causes us to reach out to God, to our true friends, to the best of our society.  It is our failure that connects us.  It is our failure that transforms us.  It is failure that can and often does lead to wisdom and compassion—when we realize it’s power.

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