“See, the problem in this world ain’t sinners or even the dead. It is men who will step on anyone who stands in the way of their pursuit of power. Luckily there will always be people like me to stop them”

― Justina Ireland

I often find that our initial instinct is to judge based on surface appearances. When we hear a term like “sinner,” it typically evokes thoughts related to matters of sexuality. However, I’ve come to realize that a sinner isn’t solely defined by the impulses of lust and desire. We often overlook another category of sinners – those who would go to any lengths, even if it means harming others, to achieve their ambitions. Many of them are so fixated on their goals that they become blind to the broader consequences, especially when viewed from a higher perspective (which, I must admit, can be a challenge from our earthly vantage point).

Their primary drive is upward, but this often entails letting go of deeply cherished beliefs, ideals, and sometimes even beloved individuals who may not know better than to share their love and understanding. Sinners aren’t confined to those who quietly yearn for something; they encompass individuals who are willing to step over the bonds of friends and family to reach a point that may not even fulfill their deepest desires. Consider a 5k marathon – it requires an immense amount of motivation, unwavering determination, countless hours of training, and a robust support system. On the contrary, those who relentlessly pursue wealth while neglecting the importance of family and friendships often undergo a transformation, one that can turn a beautiful soul into a lost one. The tragedy lies in their inability to comprehend why, despite having everything, they remain plagued by unhappiness and isolation.

In the opening chapters of the Bible, it all began with creation. Although I wouldn’t label myself as a devout believer, I often think back to the story of Adam, who accepted the forbidden apple from Eve, resulting in their expulsion from paradise. This tale raises intriguing questions about sin and morality. Who among them was the greater sinner? Is it worse to yearn for more or to trustingly accept a gift from another? It strikes me that, despite the passage of countless generations, we humans continue to find ourselves in situations akin to that fateful encounter with the apple tree.

We’re repeatedly tempted, driven by an insatiable desire for the unknown, and we place trust in individuals we’d never expect to harm us. We’re easily swayed by sweet words and willingly embrace the identities of strangers based solely on their self-description. Our cravings for the flesh lead us astray, often surrendering to carnal temptations that cloud our judgment. We become entangled in stories and begin living in worlds crafted from illusions. It begs the question: who truly carries the heavier burden of sin? Is it the one who succumbs to deceit while chasing their desires, or the one who skillfully concocts the perfect lie to exploit those very desires?

“All the hungers we have for love, for union, for happiness are given by God to lead us to him. The difference between a saint and the greatest sinner is where they go to satisfy that hunger.”

― Christopher West

The line dividing a sinner from a saint, was it etched in unyielding stone or delicately traced in shifting sands? I’d lean towards the latter, for in the sands, it’s dynamic, swaying closer to spirituality in the daylight and edging towards sin under the shroud of night. As the sun resumes its reign, the night conceals what lies beneath the gentle waves of temptation, witnessed only by the moon. But does a sinner possess the privilege of confession and redemption, or must they persist until they confess to their supposedly damning lust and passion?

Is it worth the Sunday morning ritual of knocking on the church’s heavy wooden doors when sweet lips perfumed with jasmine and roses await me back home? Thoughts flow freely in the solitude of night, where midnight writing gives life to passionate words, yet remain clandestine in the harsh light of day when curious eyes cast judgment while you simply sip coffee and smile. When a sinner prays and a saint dreams, does it confound the angels, or does it awaken a symphony of butterflies in your stomach? You might think you’re a sinner for your desires, but when you completely lose yourself in the touch of silk and delicate lace, what should that be called?

Perhaps we are all saints and sinners, but the answer hinges on the hour at which you pose the question.

After I yearned and daydreamed about caressing those tender lips, did I believe that a simple prayer could absolve me of judgment? Until the next time when thoughts of fragrant roses and velvety lips captivated my mind, or was I succumbing to temptation even before those thoughts took root? It serves as a gentle reminder that we humans never truly learn to stifle these emotions. We pray, we attempt to suppress our thoughts, and we grant ourselves time for introspection, but when the moment arrives to love once more, we all, inevitably, oscillate between being saints and sinners.

It’s a certain hypocrisy, isn’t it? No one remains entirely lost, so long as they grasp the fundamental truth that even saints have their pasts, and sinners have their futures.

“It is neither just the religious, the spiritual, the power-hungry, the evil, the ignorant, the corrupt, the Christian, the Muslim, the Hindu, the Buddhist, the Jew, nor the atheist that makes a hypocrite, but being a human being. Any man who thinks himself to be free of hypocrisy while committed to cherry-picking others for such, I am confident, the Almighty can prove to him a great deal of his own hypocrisy even beyond his earthly comprehension.”

― Criss Jami,

In the grand mosaic of life, it wasn’t just the religious, the spiritual, the power-hungry, the malicious, the unknowing, the tainted, the Christian, the Muslim, the Hindu, the Buddhist, the Jew, or even the non-believer that disclosed the mask of hypocrisy. It was an intrinsic part of our collective human existence. So, when I thought I could stand apart from this human trait, all the while scrutinizing others, I should have been prepared for a divine revelation, one that would lay bare the extent of my own hypocrisy, a truth that exceeded my earthly understanding. It’s in acknowledging my own imperfections that I began to glimpse a path toward greater empathy and understanding for all.

In this complex web of human existence, I’ve come to understand that hypocrisy is not a label to be cast upon others but a reflection of our shared humanity. We all wear this cloak at times, regardless of our beliefs or backgrounds. It’s the recognition of our own flaws that can lead to compassion and unity rather than division. So, let us not be quick to judge, for we are all fellow travelers on this journey of life, stumbling through the shadows of our own contradictions. Embracing our own humanity can be the first step toward building a more tolerant and understanding world where the flaws that make us human become the threads that weave our tapestry of existence.

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