When I was first approached to deal with this subject I felt an instinctive sense of withdrawal, I didn't like the subject. I have lived my life trying to shy away from it, or have I?
There are two ways to learn or to teach, one is through positive reinforcement and the other is through negatively connoting. Rebuke falls into the latter category.
When we negatively connote we are rebuking in some shape or form. As far as I am concerned the question is how is this done. I think the main problem is to try to elucidate when a rebuke can be helpful and constructive and when it can be destructive or abusive.
In my life I have come across many casualties of overpunitive upbringings and I have also seen the problems that over-lenience can cause. "It is not what you do but the way that you do it". This phrase from a well known song sheds more light on the matter than a whole learned treatise. It speaks to our hearts and we can have an immediate intuitive understanding of this issue.
As human beings we all have a mind. The inhabitants of our mind are called thoughts. The problem arises not in the fact that we have a mind but that each mind is populated by different thoughts. Thoughts are like buses, one idea can take you to Hendon, another one to Knightsbridge and yet another one can take you to Manchester. So the thoughts that we hold will determine to a great extent the direction and quality of our life.
Each idea which we hold creates a psychological atmosphere within which we live. So it would be true to say that the whole emotional climate within which we live is a result of all the atmosphere generated by all the thoughts and ideas that we hold both consciously and unconsciously.
Another way of looking at this is to think of the mind as an empty city, a city before it has been built, before the houses, roads and traffic are there. As this empty plot begin to become populated these ideas then become the lodgings, the houses, the neighbourhood, as they build up. Each idea that we entertain is a lodging in which we live psychically and ideologically.
As we know, nobody is one hundred percent consistent in the thoughts and ideas that they hold. People hold ideas that contradict themselves and that produce clashes or storms in their minds and by extension in their lives. This is known as confusion.
When the emotional climate or the clashes become too uncomfortable that is the moment for psychotherapists to intervene. We are like town planners, we explore the ideas and thoughts that an individual holds and make an assessment and recommendations for change of ideas that create confusion or are detrimental to a person's development. We see where the blocks lie, what needs resettlement in another area of the town (mind), what ideologies need irradication to allow for further growth and what is alright and in its right place. I said we are town planners, we are not the mayor of the city or the town council. The patient is ultimately responsible for his own changes, the difference is that he can now do it from an informed position, he has a choice.
This leads me to the subject that occupies us tonight. Rebuke can happen in two ways: internally, within an individuals mind, or externally between two or more people.
To rebuke another individual is to exercise an act of power. It is effectively saying, I am right and you are wrong, or I am good and you are bad.
It is important to keep in mind that whenever an individual rebukes another he does it from his own particular set of beliefs. Nobody has the absolute truth, everybody has an approximation to truth.
By virtue of our birth as human beings, we live in a dimension in which light is broken. We perceive this broken light as the colours of the spectrum. The colours we see in the world are not the real light, they are a reflection of the original unbroken light. The Source.
If we think that we are in the right and that we want to correct another person, it is very important how we do it. If we stand on the other side of the fence and we hurl missiles or abuse, this constitutes an act of violence and warfare. We might succeed in forcing the other person to do as we want through our superior strength or we might fail, raising their resistance. But the outcome will be the same; internally we will generate resentment, animosity, resistance and hatred.
On the other hand if we feel that someone is on the wrong track it may be our duty to try and correct them. Sometimes a rebuke is the most appropriate way to convey a message.
The importance of a rebuke is how it is delivered. Before rebuking it is important to find out where we are coming from. With what part of ourselves are we rebuking. Are we coming from a place of anger and outrage or from a place of concern for a fellow being?
What do we intend to achieve, is it a transformation of someone's nature or just an act of oppression?
If we turn our attention to religious politics, which is what the case that concerns us is about, I would say that this is a case of ideological imperialism. An intolerance to contemplate the principle of unity in diversity. We live in a multiethnic, multilingual, multi-ideological world. If this world is going to survive then we all have to learn to see it as our common home. We must learn to respect, to trust and to love one another not for what they have exactly like us but also for their differences.