If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness, and your gloom be like the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail. Isaiah 58:9-11.
If I didn’t know the source of yesterday’s reading in church I would have thought it came from the New Testament instead of from the Hebrew Scriptures. It is filled with good news. This passage and the rest of yesterday’s readings contained much food for thought. But my mind keeps wandering back to the admonition to remove from one’s habits the “pointing of the finger.”
I am reminded of my childhood and my grandmother saying, “ If you point a finger at someone than three fingers are pointing at you.” In the times of King David the pointing of a finger was a sign of contempt. In modern politics, “finger pointing” has become an art form. Someone else is always at fault and the cause of our problems or disaster. We even point our finger at God for many of tragedies calling them “Acts of God.”
I listened recently to a pro athlete who attributed his success to finally realizing that he needed to just do his job and quit pointing fingers at his teammates. He had realized that he was part of a unit that needed and depended on each other. Pointing fingers not only showed a lack of respect for the recipient, but for the team as a whole and the accuser, as well. I think of Congress always blaming the other party or another member for the failure to address critical issues. Yet, their finger pointing brings dishonor to the institution more so than to their opponents.
Your Sufi wisdom talks in terms of unity – unity with each other and with Allah. Finger pointing separates us from each other, but more importantly separates us from God.