The cheery 'Good morning!' dilemma
Posted by Simon Parke, 15 January 2018, 10.49am
I offer you the ‘Cheery Good Morning!’ dilemma.
Here’s the game: You say a cheery ‘Good Morning!’ to your neighbour and then get on with your day.
Later, however, you discover that your neighbour had just murdered their partner when you saw them.
So how do you now feel? Do you regret your cheery ‘Good Morning!’?
With hindsight, some people might wish they’d been more circumspect with their greeting, colder…more withdrawn.
Or perhaps offered no greeting at all.
‘They certainly didn’t deserve a cheery one!’
Such people live in a punitive universe, rather than a gracious universe; they live in a punitive universe where grace and kindness must be rationed to those who deserve it.
This is the way of the world.
But the problem with the punitive universe is this: where do I stop?
Do I offer a cheery good morning to a lazy boss? Or to an emotionally distant mother? Or to a flakey work colleague? Or to a doctor with bad breath?
Just who deserves my cheery good morning? There’s so much failure in the world that needs punishing!
There’s the ‘Monster’ category of failure for people like Hitler. Does he get a greeting? Not many takers there.
But then, what about Winston Churchill? He delivered a few marvellous, mood-shifting speeches…but made some appalling decisions in his life, and after the war, was a depressed alcoholic - in charge of the country but incapable.
Does he get a cheery good morning? Should we really be condoning such behaviour?
Drawing the line in a punitive universe is problematic…there’s so much failure to punish.
Of course, the person who most needs your cheery ‘Good morning!’ is your good self…and I use the phrase with care, because you are good.
And it’s a fine day when we leave the punitive universe and enter the gracious; starting with a cheery good morning to ourselves.
Julian of Norwich, the 14th century anchoress, inhabited a gracious universe, in an unrelentingly punitive setting.
This was her uniqueness and her genius.
‘For I saw most truly,’ she wrote, ‘where our Lord appears, peace is received and wrath has no place. For I saw no kind of wrath in God, neither briefly nor for long.’
No rationed kindness here, no cold-shoulder or averted eyes…
So we’re thinking about our cheery ‘Good morning!’...and who exactly deserves it?
We’re wondering which universe we inhabit, the punitive or gracious?
We probably inhabit both in a day, if we’re honest – both before breakfast; and this is fine, as long as we’re aware…because they’re not the same.
And our ‘Gracious Universe’ world tour – the trip of a life time! - starts with a gracious universe within…
... with a cheery good morning to your good self.