Posted December 31, 2002
A New Year's Resolution Worth Considering
By Wisdom is a house built, by understanding is it established — Book of Proverbs
How About Resolving to Build This Year's Parish Community
and Your Family Life on Better Understanding?
Understanding as seen by Romano Guardini
Where then can we speak of an understanding? Where the situation involves beings in each of whom there is an inner life which is hidden and yet expressed in the exterior activity and so can be perceived by another being of the same kind.
Someone approaches me on the street, looks at me and tips his hat. From this action I can see that his attention is directed toward me, that he "means" me. By the expression on his face I can tell whether the man with whom I am dealing is well disposed toward me or has an aversion to me or feels embarrassed. Someone explains his behavior to me on a certain occasion, which surprised me. I hear his words; their meaning becomes clear to me. Now I know what I could not know before. These and countless other incidents, which constantly occur, indicate that man carries an interior world within himself; that dispositions, conditions, feelings, which are originally hidden, can be expressed in words, countenance, attitude, behavior and actions, and so can be revealed.
Understanding then, means being able to read or grasp the interior meaning in consequence of the external manifestation. . . .
Understanding means to see, to hear, and to perceive how behind a feeling that is manifested, behind an opinion that is expressed, something else is hidden — perhaps another thing behind that. . . .
Understanding also means recognizing how the present hour results from a man's life history. . . .
The beginning of all understanding consists in this: that each one shall give the other freedom to be what he is, and not regard him from the point of view of egotism, prescribing for him what he is to be according to one's own self-interest, but rather regarding him from the point of view of freedom, first saying, "Be what you are," and then, "Now I should like to know what you are, and why."