“What matters is that you are sincere” sounds like good advise, and it is, as we shall see in a moment. But it can also be the worst advise to give anyone. God does, indeed, want us to be sincere about what we do. A common dictionary definition of sincere is “free from pretense or deceit; proceeding from genuine feelings”. It is wrong to be pretentious and deceitful. We must always strive to be genuine, honest, in other words, sincere. Integrity.
But what if being true to who we are involves doing something that is hurtful and unkind and unloving? What if I genuinely don’t care about the homeless and the sick? Should I be sincere even then? Would it be pretentious to “do” caring things to such people because that is “the right thing to do”? Such questions lead us to something that often goes un-examined when we talk about “being sincere”: It matters what we are being sincere about. In other words, our personal feelings are not the ultimate standard of what is right or wrong. We are not automatically doing right just because we are doing what we feel like doing. There seems to be a standard of right or wrong, outside of our feelings.
I doubt that you missed the story. It was all over international news about 2 months ago. A young woman was traveling back home from the cinema when she was attacked by five men on a bus. The five men beat up her male companion and proceeded to brutally rape the woman, leaving her for dead. Despite the doctors’ best attempts to save her life, the 23-year-old physiotherapy student later succumbed to the horrific injuries sustained during the assault. It is a sad and horrific story. But not as horrific as what the lawyer representing her attackers said in their defense.
Manohar Lal Sharma, the lawyer representing three of the accused men, argued that the woman and her male counterpart were fully to blame for what happened to them. His argument was that the victim was not a “respectable lady”. He explained that the victim’s friend and male counterpart, Mr Pandey, was “wholly responsible for the incident as the unmarried couple should not have been on the streets at night.” At first glance, such an argument may sound quite unreasonable. But similar arguments are not uncommon in many rape cases, “the woman was dressed provocatively” is a common one. It is true that such cases are too emotive to give any room for reason, and the lawyer’s defense may seem unreasonable at first. But before we pick up the stones and take shots at lawyers, we need to confront another more familiar lawyer. Continue reading I Blame God For My Sins