By the Hebrew calendar, we are approaching the dawn of a new year.
For us, crossing the threshold into a new year is not a time for boisterous celebration or frivolity. It is a time for serious introspection, looking within and taking stock of ourselves and our actions.
It is a time for facing our failings and resolving to improve the conduct of our lives in the coming year. It is also an opportunity to confession to ourselves.
We shall do that, O Lord, but we cannot promise to become saintly beings, to be ever thoughtful, giving and caring. We cannot promise to do no wrong, and cause no hurt, unintentional as it may be.
We can promise only to do the best we can, and the most we can — to strive to live in peace with ourselves and those around us and never bear malice towards another.
May our promise be acceptable to You, O Lord, and serve as a guiding light to ourselves.
I’m munching on Cheetos while I contemplate whether there’s a hidden message in what my grandmother wrote. The phrase, which keeps sticking in my mind, is “never bear malice toward another.” Yet, in the previous sentence, she wrote “… promise to do no wrong, and cause no hurt…”
Malice is the intent to do harm. It can be emotional, physical or an unlawful activity that hurts another. Promising not to hurt people through unlawful or physical activities isn’t difficult. Anticipating how an action could cause emotional hurt isn’t as easy.
A word said in jest, a smirk, casual comment or ignoring or overlooking someone’s immediate needs can hurt another’s feeling. And depending on what took place, the pain could be worse than physical harm.
Is a child more hurt than a spanking or being called stupid? Does the stink of being called a fatty worse than being pushed or defamed?
While it’s challenging to avoid emotionally hurting another — with a careless word or failing to respond to their needs — as my grandmother wrote, you can aim not to bear malice towards another. You can do your best to treat others with respect, responding to their calls and letters, providing support when needed, and sometimes putting their needs before your own.