Actions over Words


“The natural habitat for truth is in interpersonal relationships”

– Josef Pieper (German Catholic philosopher)


It seems to me as if there are four different “types of people.”

  1. Those who speak and write of peace but their actions with others (in person) are hurtful and apathetic. (example, the person who goes to their place of worship faithfully but then proceeds to mistreat others)
  2. Those who speak and write in hurtful and inappropriate ways but their actions with others (in person) are kind and filled with love. (example, the person who posts racists memes on social media but treats those who are different in a kind, respectful way)
  3. Those who speak and write of peace and their actions mostly reflect that. (example, the person who speaks of kindness and then treats others in the same way)
  4. Those who peak and write in hurtful and inappropriate ways and their actions are hurtful and inappropriate. (example, the person who posts racists images and words on social media and treats those who are different in the same way).

It is worth adding that in our own assessment of ourselves, we probably can be any of these at different times in our life.

We also have blind spots, areas that we do not see so clearly in how we act in certain situations (especially when we are are in stressful environments).

We should also pay attention to what we see in others that disrupts us as it may reveal a truth about ourselves that needs attention. Author Herman Hesse wrote, “If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself.”

There is also the reality of implicit bias, ways we tick based on social constructs that impact our judgements and attitudes, all of which we may not fully recognize but the impact is real. (An example will be if you were interviewing someone but you dismissed their qualifications because of a pre-determined assumption. You may not even recognize that you are doing this, but there is something you don’t like that you “see” or “feel” that may not even be true. )

I reflect on this and I am quickly reminded of the trailer for the new Mr. Rogers film coming this Thanksgiving. There is a clip where the husband tells his wife that he is interviewing Fred Rogers, and the wife says, “please do not ruin my childhood.”

We have a long list of people in our personal life and in our society who lack authenticity. They speak out of both sides of their mouth, their actions do not reflect their beliefs, and who we thought they were was not necessarily true.

Again, to be honest, we probably have all had interactions where we were not our best selves, where people left us feeling a little worse off than before, and disappointed in their exchange with us.

The challenge, especially at a time when one can easily hide behind their computer screen and spew beliefs and opinions, is to be in relationship with others.

If Josef Pieper is correct, our real truth is how we treat others when they are in our midst.

In the four descriptions above, there is one that we must strive for, and that is for our actions and our words to be of peace and love.

And it is really hard to do.

So how can we be our true self, an accurate and authentic reflection of God’s beloved.

  1. Be in relationship with your Creator. Finding time to rest in this unconditional love, to be in prayer so you are in relationship with God, fills your cup.
  2. Be in relationship with others.
    • In person, not behind a screen. 
    • With those who a different, those who challenge your beliefs, and  those who may have hurt or angered you.
    • Listen with your ears and your heart.
  3. Reflect on all of these interactions daily so you can assess your own authenticity, your bias, your shortcomings, all while recognizing that you are all healing and growing.

Richard Rohr writes, “How you do life is your real and final truth?”

How do you do life?





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