When You Say One Thing, But Do Another: Incoherence

by Faith & Life, Morals & Values, Self-Knowledge, Sin, Spiritual Warfare

From the moment of humankind’s first sin, the sweet harmony between words and action has proved to be impressively elusive. And the fact that it is something common in all of our lives can make us dangerously insensible to it. The video– sponsored by the Thai Health Promotion Foundation– offers a fresh glance at some of the absurd contradictions we can fall into.

In the first place, let’s begin with a little myth-busting: rational knowledge doesn’t necessarily lead to rational behavior. The problem goes deeper. The danger of smoking couldn’t be clearer to these people. It’s an ugly habit, and the image of a child doing the same is repugnant. So why is it acceptable in their minds for them to do it?

Well, the obvious answer is, “It’s not. It’s completely contradictory.” But, instead of falling into some naïve or arrogant judgment, let’s learn what we can about our own behavior and it’s consequences.

The video’s most interesting aspect, in my opinion, is the bucket-of-water-in-the-face reaction that the children achieve when asking, “Then why do you do it?” It is one of those obvious questions that we all ask ourselves when we do something the first time. But, as the mental consent to a certain action makes itself at home in our mentality–that is, when it becomes a habit– we stop asking that question. We throw it into the “block list” on our ad blocker.

With humility, we must admit that we all have these types of behaviors, in one form or another, and that we will have them, to one degree or another, until the day we die. Any perfectionistic and unrealistic hopes are counterproductive. I would propose, rather, a path of perseverance and daily combat.

Here are a few concrete steps that we can take and offer to others:

–       The first thing to do is to check the “block list.” The Church and the saints teach us that a daily examination of conscience and frequent confession are fundamental weapons in a battle to be waged with both valor and common sense.

–       Find those intrusive people in your life that are willing to ask you, “Then, why do you do it?” The politically correct mentality is a great one if you want lung cancer.

–       Remember what you are fighting for: your incoherence affects more than just you. Those around us “breathe” in our sin too. It doesn’t make them guilty of it, but it certainly doesn’t help the lungs.

–       Lastly, and most importantly, pray. The path towards coherence isn’t a loner’s one, as Peter painfully experienced. Learn to find your strength in the Lord’s eternal and faithful “yes” to his Father’s will. (Remember: he knows our weakness and is there to help us, every step of the way.) Reflect and learn from Mary’s example. Ask for her intercession, allow her “yes” to the Lord to become your own.

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