Wednesday, October 17, 2012

If I had another daughter

I think I would like to name her Malala.

Watching Out For One Another

Something that has struck me lately, a new way (for me, at least) to think of some ancient religious texts:
"You are to do the same [sacrifices] for anyone who sins unintentionally or through ignorance..." 
"Early in the morning, he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, "Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts."
These texts look only one step removed from magic and superstition, where a fear of evil consequences makes us undergo purifying rituals.

But maybe the one step they have taken away from superstition is this: they both speak of taking care of others. 

We may err intentionally, and that is our fault.  But we all err ignorantly and unintentionally as well.  We offend without meaning to offend.  We do harm without knowing the consequences of our actions.

It is good to be reminded of these things, if only so that we don't think of ourselves too highly.  The sacrifice is at least a reminder that we are not flawless, and that we should still examine our lives.  Even what we intend for good may cause harm.

If we know that about ourselves, we may know it about others as well.  And knowing it about others, we may have the same compassion for them as we have for ourselves.


*The first passage is from the Book of Ezekiel, 45.20; the second is from the Book of Job, 1.5.  Both are from the New International Version, which happened to be the one nearest to hand as I wrote this.  The first passage is from a passage instructing priests; the second is from the ancient poem about Job, the good man who suffers unexplained evil.