I was watching an Internet broadcast of a college class on the impact of the Renaissance of American life and politics – the eighth class out of a ten class series. I was finding this class more personally enlightening than the previous seven classes when the instructor said something about the teachings of Martin Luther being aimed at bringing the outer man into conformity with the inner man. My initial thought was, ‘Yes!’ But that agreement didn’t last long.
I began to think about all the multiplicity of motives and thoughts that are within the inward person of most, if not all, of us. Although it is true that if the outer person more consistently resembled the highest ideal or standard to which most of us give assent, our world would probably be a better place. The problem is, we’re not always in agreement with what is the highest ideal or standard – even within one inner person, let alone between inner persons.
Sometimes the alternative might work better – having our inner person be fully in agreement with our outer person. The reason for that is that most often we try to put our best face forward – in other words, we tend to limit the visibility to outsiders of our temper tantrums, selfishness, greed, etc. It should be a good thing if there were some kind of checks and balances between our inner and outer person so that, over time, the negatives [by some ideal standard] are replaced by more positive aspects [also measured by some ideal standard].
I suspect that, for most of us, this will be a lifelong process and one with difficulty in balancing the difference between what I think I want or need, what is for my ultimate good, what is in the best interest of those I come in contact with including their perceived wants and needs and ultimate good, and the impact on the world around me. To add to the complexity, there may be a different ideal standard depending on which facet of those I focus on.