If . . . it consists in empty, profitless debates and in a vain concatenation of imaginings that lead to no result except acrimony, why devote one’s life to such useless hairsplittings and disputes. (Abdu’l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 106)
I love this quote because I absolutely hate being around people who need to be right, and who “devote their lives to useless hairsplittings and disputes” that “lead to no result except acrimony”. I love being right, too, especially when I have the Writings on my side!
I used to think that people engaged in useless hairsplitting were insecure and needed to be right at the expense of other people and at the expense of unity, but there may be another side.
I looked up the meaning of hairsplitting and found it’s the “drawing of distinctions that don’t make a practical difference”. Sometimes, though, such distinctions may depend on the context and purpose. For example, the expression “’the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” may seem like too many words saying the same thing, but it’s possible to tell the truth without telling the whole truth, or telling the whole truth without telling nothing but the truth. This is not hairsplitting but making a necessary distinction for the clarity of thought needed for ethical action and prudent action.
Knowing there may be times where we need people who can be precise in their thinking makes me more compassionate and forgiving and I am grateful!
What jumped out for you as you read through today’s meditation? I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!
If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Letting Go of Anger and Bitterness