An open space for global conversation
Actions can be confusing sometimes. We live with so many concepts, things like: charity, prayer, mercy, discipline, wellness...but what do any of these things really mean? How can we live these concepts in our day to day lives? We obviously have to bear in mind that certain values are more appropriately manifested in particular times and ways than in other times and ways. For example, you see someone on the street, dressed in a business suit, rushing around. You don't know anything about this person, but you get this idea in your mind that maybe he is hungry. You feel deep genuine compassion for this predicament. You recall your times trying to appear as professional as possible, while hustling for change to get to work, hungry out of your mind. You have just bought groceries, so you approach this fellow, and offer him part of your block of cheese, wishing someone had extended the same gesture to you when you needed it.
Smiling, you hand the man some cheese, with tenderness just filling your eyes and heart, believing this is a valid action step towards the outcome of solving very basic world problems like hunger and violence, when in fact it is more an action step toward the outcome of getting arrested.
The man looks at you wildly, threatening to call the police if you do not leave. You become confused.
So, how do we know which action or value to demonstrate in what moment? Well, you can start by making a list of all your values, and thinking of examples of situations in which they might change in terms of their priority, based on past experience, or on the experiences and suggestions of others. For example, in a homeless shelter, a demonstration of charity would be a welcome expression, most likely, if done properly. That is the other thing. You must keep ALL your values in mind in each moment, and effort to demonstrate all of them, as appropriately as possible. Intention means little to people for whom your intention is not very personally connected.
We see therefore that perceptive and accurate assessment and evaluation skills are essential for discerning the appropriate actions in situations. Suppose you have already handed the man the cheese. The thing to do then would most likely not be to run, and while it may be injurious to one's pride and to the value of clarity to leave, nonetheless it would most likely be the appropriate action in the situation. Why is this so? Because everyone in the situation has to be taken into account equally, along with the past, possible failures to comprehend, the situation as it stands, and in this case, especially the future, need to be taken into account. It doesn't make sense to force your cheese upon this man. At this point you've begun to realize he probably isn't even hungry. The best thing to do would be to apologize, step away, and leave politely, head bowed in deep humility, only very slightly wounded.