“O Lord, grant us reasonableness in all our dealings with each other. Make us large-hearted in helping and generous in criticizing. Keep us from unkind words and unkind silence” (Sid Hedges).
WOULD THOSE WHO KNOW YOU DESCRIBE YOU AS REASONABLE? I hope they would. Reasonableness can mean more than one thing, as we shall see, but if your friends would say the opposite — that you are known for being unreasonable — there are probably some adjustments you need to make. Consider three different ways in which it would be good to be reasonable.
(1) Kind, considerate, and balanced. As indicated in the above quotation from Sid Hedges, reasonableness sometimes means being kind. It means we control the impulse to be angry and irritated, and discipline ourselves to be generous and helpful with those around us. This kind of reasonableness has always been valuable, but it is all the more so in our fast-paced, competitive, often rude culture.
(2) Acting on the basis of good reasons. Being reasonable also means we live our lives carefully, being motivated by wise reasons rather than snap judgments. Sometimes a hunch or an intuition may lead us in the right direction, but generally speaking, we need to have good reasons for our actions. “When a man has not a good reason for doing a thing, he has one good reason for letting it alone” (Thomas Scott).
(3) Open to the reasoning of other people. Usually our own conscience will tell us the reasons why we ought to do (or not do) a certain thing, but we also need to be open to the reasoning of others. None of us is wise enough to figure out every situation all by ourselves, so we need to listen to others when they suggest the wisdom of a path different from the one we had in mind.
The voice of reason is sometimes hard to hear. These days, it can be drowned out by the entertainers, the advertisers, and the influence-peddlers. But as we all know, reason can also be drowned out by our own pride and self-will. Too often, we ignore the good reasons that should guide us, and we do things that are unreasonable, if not completely irrational. But reason can’t be ignored without consequence. If we defy what is reasonable, the “school of hard knocks” awaits us.
“If you will not hear reason, she will surely rap your knuckles” (Benjamin Franklin).