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Flickr photo by wilB

“What we give our attention to most defines us”

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By Ernesto Tinajero

“Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.” – Simone Weil

What we give our attention to most defines us. What we give attention to defines our god.

If I pay the most attention to money and the making of money, my life will look a certain way depending on if I gather money or not. If I do gather money, I become arrogant and prideful in my winning. If not, then I become resentful and full of self loathing for a deep longing that never ends. I will be a loser in my own opinion. I will be selfish, either way. Money is an unforgiving god that makes humans hate others and themselves.

If I put most of my attention on success, my life becomes binary. If I succeed then I have to find the next thing to succeed at — one success will never be enough. Like an addiction, I will run on it until I fail. If I fail, I will continue to strive as it will never be enough. My thirst will crush me either way. I will be bitter, either way. Success is an unforgiving goddess.

If I put my most of my attention on being right, I will delude myself into thinking I am right, no matter the reality in front of me. I will think I have the truth. I will justify myself and be self-righteous. I will be arrogant in my ignorance. Yet others will be repelled and I will be alone in my loneliness, making others think they can’t handle the truth and I can. Being right is a unforgiving god.

If I put most of my attention on doing right, I will judge those that do wrong and judge them unworthy. I will be terrified of doing wrong and fear the judgement of others, even as I judge them. I will burnish my morality with my own ego. St. Paul warned that focusing on doing right is like being in a prison. For if I fail as we all do, I will fool myself into thinking I am not as bad as the others around me, and I erect a wall. My heart will grow into a cold black coal. Morality is an unforgiving god.

If I pay most attention to love, I find God. I give to others and the cross will become real, but so will Easter. The road of love will be narrow as love leads through the cross. The new life of love, of finding the joy of being with others, is a forgiving matter that will drive life to an eternal living presence. Only love is a forgiving God.

About Ernesto Tinajero

Art, says Ernesto Tinajero, comes from the border of what has come before and what is coming next. Tinajero uses his experience studying poetry and theology to write about the intersecting borders of art, poetry and religion.

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