Glasshouses and Stones

The Irony behind a so-called Insult!

“Don’t tell me that we need to actually write such a notice, to make people understand the meaning of respect and non-desecration?”

“People who live in glass houses, should not throw stones.”

It was when I was a young child that I first heard the expression – “People who live in glasshouses, should not throw stones.” Since I was quite immature at that time, I can assure you that I had neither the inclination or the time to probe the inner, deeper meaning of this saying. In fact, I was inclined to believe it as being rather ridiculous – especially since it seemed to use such high-flown and incomprehensible language as a means of attracting attention and gaining importance, in the world, as words of enlightenment and wisdom. It was at a later age and mature stage of my life that I truly understood and appreciated the finer meaning of this apt expression – believe me, we would all do very well by adopting it in our daily lives.

If one must understand this expression in its truest form, one must first understand the literal meaning of the words used so suitably to give it a correct connotation. What is a glasshouse? It is a greenhouse or a hot-house, consisting of transparent walls and a transparent roof – all made entirely of glass. It serves as a nursery to exhibit, grow and cultivate plants in protected and controlled conditions. A glasshouse, as you can well imagine, is, by its very nature, fragile and brittle, even when the best quality, thickest and most dense glass has been used for its construction. Living in such a fragile glass building implies transparency (superficiality of character and fickle-mindedness) and it offers a total lack of privacy. It stands open to attack, on all sides, from the elements of nature like violent storms and  raging winds. Both animals and human beings can gain illegal entrance into it without any trouble or effort at all. It is a structure that is essentially vulnerable, weak and lacking in basic stability, safety and security. A glasshouse also implies being in a place, position, or situation involving intense public scrutiny.

We all know what stones are –  stones consist of concreted, earthy and non-metallic material. They are the hard, solid, non-metallic mineral matter of which rock is made, esp. as a building material. They have rough, irregular, sharp surfaces and edges, especially when first mined from the quarries. If a stone is launched at someone, with reasonable force, it causes serious injuries and  much bodily harm. Similarly, if a stone is thrown forcefully against a wall, it causes the wall to flake, crack, dent or even collapse altogether. In short, throwing it can cause considerable damage – one way or another.

People who live in glasshouses are those who are very quick in judging, condemning and criticizing others without considering all the facets of the matter or their own faults and weaknesses. If a person is easily offended by others and is sensitive by nature, then such a person must necessarily not dish out criticism and insults to his fellow beings – especially since he/she cannot accept being offended himself/herself. Gossip has a sensational  element to it and it adds immense fodder to the rumour-mill. We have all indulged in gossip at some time or other in our lives and continue to do so. We should remember not laugh at others – we should laugh with them. Before you condemn someone summarily, imagine walking a mile in his/her shoes. It will rapidly make you change your mind. Instead, try to understand better the options that the condemned party chose to merit such behaviour. Most of us use the defense mechanism of denial as a means of projecting our own insecurities and inferiority on other people. It is a means of effectively diverting attention from oneself by projecting a negative image onto others. Denial serves, in this way, to protect one’s own self-image and self-worth. However, people couldn’t care less if the self-image and self-worth of others is destroyed by their own slander, misdirection and debasement. Denial is a tactic that is used to protect one’s ego against things that we find ourselves unable to cope with rationally. If a person points one of his fingers at someone, it implies that his other four fingers – curled inwards – point towards himself. Such people (who live in glasshouses) are those who are in a position of  extreme vulnerability, instability, weakness, insecurity &/or inferiority and yet they take every opportunity to offend others by launching insults (stones) at them. This expression means – in the simplest of terms – “if you can’t take it, don’t dish it out.”

We should not underestimate our own weaknesses, faults and mistakes when we judge others. A vulnerable person is fallible himself/herself – so don’t you think it is only sensible and reasonable to accept humbly that our fellow-citizens are fallible too? We should not be so quick in criticizing others for faults that we possess ourselves.

At the end of the day – “live and let live; shine and let shine.” Remember – each time that you feel tempted to throw a stone at someone, remember that you live in a glasshouse yourself and that your position is as precarious and unstable as the other person’s. If anyone does have the right to judge us, it is the Lord – the Supreme Being who created us in His very own Image. Let Him judge us on Judgement Day!