In God’s creation story there is an interesting point to notice and to think it over. God said, “It is good” after creating the universe – sky, earth, water, sea, plants, trees, animals and so on. But He said no comments about the man and woman, He created. Instead, He blessed the male and female saying, “Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it.” [Genesis 1:18] The reason may be this: The man and woman are not perfect, but they have the possibility left in them to grow into perfection, even to the last day of their life. That means, we should not underestimate and condemn a person as bad man or woman. There is always a chance for a person to change and grow in good character; there is goodness inside, because God’s image is within him/her.
We can make a person to look good or bad. There are two factors that lead people to the possibility of becoming a good one or a bad one. They are, 1. Love: 2. No Love. Love can awaken the source of goodness in a person. By loving the person whom we think he does not deserve our love will bring positive changes in that person’s life.
It is the great lesson that the resurrected Christ taught us for example that His disciples deserved some rebuke and scolding from Him because they behaved thankless and rude to Him. Jesus lived with them for more than three years and defended them against the critics and justified their weakness and shortcomings. Yet they left Him alone and ran away to save their life when Jesus was in trouble. One of the disciples betrayed Him. They turned to be thankless and without loyalty. They knew that they were wrong and feeling fear and guilt while they were sitting in the closed room. It was at that time the resurrected Jesus appeared to them. Instead of complaining and criticizing them Jesus said to them, “Peace be with you.” The love towards them really transformed their lives completely. Then they decided that they would stand for Him forever even if they have to give up their lives. Jesus showed so much love and trust in goodness of their hearts. That trusting nature of Christ would be the reason for Him to influence the whole world.
Jesus always looks who we can be, rather than who we are. Then He will transform individual life by being with them, like changed water into wine.
The problem with us is that we do not have sound mind and attitude to trust others. Trusting may not be acceptable for practical thinkers. Jesus Christ put His trust in Peter and changed him, entrusted to him the key of the Church. The history teaches us that Jesus was not at all wrong by trusting Peter and His other disciples. Later, the world said about them “The men who turned the world upside down”
Reprimands and punishments may make people obedient but in their hearts they may nurture a grudge. Only the people who love and trust others unconditionally can bring out the goodness in them and make them change their mind and lives. We make big mistakes when we guess and form certain negative opinion about others. Sometimes our opinion may be right, sometimes wrong. Our opinions may have been formed out of certain incidents in the past. We may say such people may not change. We may be criticizing with the intention to make them good. But this negative approach may not work.
What is the right way?
When dealing with children, parents should be aware of implications of scolding them. Many a time, issues can be resolved with a look or stance. Here I give an example story of Ryokan, a Guru and Spiritual Consult, for our attention and understanding. One day the mother of his nephew complained Ryokan about her son, “He does no work, squanders his father’s money in wild parties and is neglecting the estate. If he does not reform, we will be ruined.”
Ryokan visited his nephew who was genuinely pleased to see him. The two of them had spent many happy hours together. The young man knew why his uncle had come and braced himself for the scolding he was sure he would receive. But Ryokan said not a word in rebuke, the whole day. The next day morning when it was time for him to go, he put on his garments and then said to his nephew: “Will you help me tie the thongs of my sandals? My hands shake and I cannot do it.”
His nephew helped him willingly.
“Thank you,” said Ryokan. “A man becomes older and feebler day by day. You remember how strong and robust I used to be?”
“I do,” said his nephew, thoughtfully. “I do indeed remember how you used to be.”
It was the moment of truth for him. He suddenly realized that his mother and all those who had looked after him had become old and that it was now his turn to look after them and to take on the responsibilities of the household and the community. The boy gave up his dissolute life forever.
Rude way of reprimands and punishments may not be fruitful, even though we may do it sometimes, depending the seriousness of the matter. Advice wrapped in love may be very effective.