Criteria

Criteria: (n) rules or principles for evaluating or testing something.

That’s it.

Call off the dogs, close up the investigation and give all the researchers a lunch break.

We have stumbled upon something.

Perhaps the problem with all of our dealings on Earth is that we have never universally established criteria for what it means to be a human being.

Everybody has their opinion.

There are those who insist we are saints, and certainly those in the clergy who feel it’s necessary to get us to admit that we’re sinners.

Sometimes we make bold statements and talk about human achievement—and follow it up immediately with a sheepish, pouty, “Well, we’re only human.”

Which is it?

Are we dastardly folk who cannot be trusted, who think only of ourselves and lie at the drop of a hat, and therefore need constant supervision in the simplest affairs of our lives?

Or are we truly created in the image of God, therefore capable of great works of art, and deeds of valor and courage?

Since we can’t make up our minds on this particular issue, we use being human as a way of decrying the need for God, but also as an excuse for leaving the toilet seat up all the time.

So I humbly but firmly offer these three criteria for being human:

  1. We don’t have a big brain so we can act stupid. Smarten up and learn something today.
  2. We are remarkably all the same, so stop looking for subtle differences or shades of color.
  3. We can make magnificent things as long as we admit they need to be made and we have not yet achieved all that we must do.

Could we actually agree on these three things?

Could these become the criteria for being human, so when some fall short, they can do a quick repenting job, and when others feel like gods, we can lure them down from Olympus?

Without criteria, we make up excuses right on the spot—like a little kid with chocolate stains on his shirt, who’s trying to decide if it would be better to admit the candy-eating, or insist he pooped himself.

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Civil

Civil: (adj) courteous and polite.

Civil is what you end up with when you can’t convince people to be kind but you’ve talked them out of being assholes.

The possibility of showing mercy seems weak to them, but they would like to escape the “old man” or “old woman” profile of grumpy.

Now, there’s an aspiration.

Stop judging people because they’re not nice.

Stop judging people because they’re not nice enough.

Here’s an idea: stop judging people.

Instead, look for reasonable acts of civility. Don’t demand kindness. Maybe that’s just a profile reserved for saints. What we’re looking for is civility. Civility is the presence of a realization with a threat hanging over it. Simply stated:

“You can have what you want as long as you let everybody else have what they want. The minute you don’t let other people have what they want, you cease to have what you want.”

As long as our “wanter” is not killing people, stealing or destroying, it should be taken into consideration and given equal place with the “wanters” of others.

This is called civil.

It’s a decision to refuse to overlord (since you’re not really a god in the first place.)

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Applaud

dictionary with letter A

Ap·plaud (v): to show approval or praise by clapping.

Although many people distinguish between human beings by referring to them as “saints” or “sinners,” I truthfully contend that we all blur into “sainners.” For after all, the saints do sin, and the sinners, every once in a while, stumble into some saintly behavior.

But there is one distinct difference between those who “pew” and those who have “de-pewed” and that is over the issue of whether to applaud or not to applaud.

Those who have refrained from steeple life deem applause a way of showing appreciation and often those within the confines of the holy temple think that such generosity is reserved solely for the Almighty and not for his faithful minions.

Here’s the problem: whether you are in the church or out of the church, you’re still human.

Since saints appear to be those individuals who have escaped the mortal coil and no longer have to worry about rent and traffic gridlock, it is difficult for us to pattern our lives after their mannerisms.

Saints and sinners both have to find a way to be human without offending one another (or God, for that matter).

And I will tell you, one of the sure ways to create a resentful, frustrated and bitter individual is to remove encouragement and approval for his or her work.

In America, we show that kind of “attaboy” with money or applause.

When you remove the applause, as is often done in religious circles, and even occasionally subtracting the money, you end up with a craftsman who is trying to do his work out of duty.

Can I say–human beings just suck at duty? Or maybe it’s just that duty itself sucks.

So even though I have performed in front of the faithful many times, I gently demand that they applaud so they don’t end up looking like a bunch of jerks who are trying to decide whether to enjoy themselves.

Matter of fact, because I know the God who fills my heart is a creative genius, I sometimes will step outside early in the morning, as the sun is rising, smile … and applaud.

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