When the same passage appears twice in the space of three chapters in the Bible, I consider it to be a dead giveaway that that passage is something to which I’m supposed to pay particular attention. In chapter 6 of the book of Jeremiah, the prophet brought an indictment against the kingdom of Judah, a corrupt nation living on borrowed virtue and borrowed time. This indictment is repeated in chapter 8:
“From the least to the greatest,
all are greedy for gain;
prophets and priests alike,
all practice deceit.
They dress the wound of my people
as though it were not serious.
‘Peace, peace,’ they say,
when there is no peace. (Jeremiah 6:13-14, New International Version)
I share this as I think about Step 86 “I honor those who have given to me” in Steps to Knowledge. Any student who has come this far has already received an answer for the question “How shall I deal with my self-inflicted wounds, the painful consequences of my own errors?” That answer was introduced in Step 26 “My errors give birth to my Knowledge,” and developed in Step 73 “I will allow my errors to teach me.” The answer is something to the effect of “Don’t kid yourself into thinking that error doesn’t exist. Don’t kid yourself into thinking that error doesn’t hurt. Make the decision to learn from your errors so as not to repeat them, thus avoiding the pain and suffering they bring.” I found that to be a satisfactory answer, a satisfactory dressing of my self-inflicted wounds.
What of the wounds my brothers gave to me?
But there is another side of the coin that must be addressed. Many people have difficulty dealing with wounds which are inflicted by others, the painful consequences of the errors of others. Many people question the justice of God, or the character of God, or even the very existence of God when they contemplated the actions of other people. I believe Step 86 provides an empowering context into which to place the evil that men do.
The people who have wounded me put my character, strength, courage and magnanimity to the test. Sometimes I passed the test, sometimes I didn’t. But they offered me a mirror in which I could plainly see myself. Maybe that’s what Rumi meant when he said “The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”
As I honor those who have given to me, I offer gratitude for the contributions of some people. What of the wounds my brothers gave to me? I thank them for the test they offered me, even if I didn’t pass. I am thankful that Steps to Knowledge is addressing this subject, and not saying “Peace, peace” when there is no peace.
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