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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Staying Out Of The Advice Business

Since watching "Higher Ground" several weeks ago, I've been turning over one short scene in my mind. In the movie, a thoughtful meditation on faith, the main character is a deeply religious but conflicted character played by Vera Farmiga; the film is also Farmiga's directing debut. In the scene, she is being counselled by a pastor;  it is an unsettling conversation.

How often in your life have you been counselled by someone with an agenda superseding your best interest? I can recall a few instances from my own life; it's possible my general resistance to taking advice, however well meaning, is rooted in those instances. That scene in "Higher Ground" has nothing to do with being gay. But since watching it, I've imagined the damage that might have been done by well meaning counsellors (clergy, psychiatrists, family) before there was some degree of acceptance about being gay.

Not long after I realized I had little use for advice in my own life, I mostly stopped giving it as well. That scene from "Higher Ground" has strengthened my resolve to stay out of the advice business. If/when I'm tempted to give some, my new resolve is to be sure I'm speaking from the other person's best interest.            

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