"[Death] took what it saw, but crumbled before what it had not seen."
St. John Chrysostom Pascha Homily
One of my perennial battles with myself has its root in the fact that I am mostly blind. I'm not talking about physical blindness, but about the inability to see what is really going on in my life and in the lives of those around me. I do see some things, but the problem is that I forget that I don't see a great deal more. I see the tip and think I understand the whole iceberg.
Blindness, actually, is not really the problem either. Jesus said to the Pharisees, when they asked if He thought they were blind, "If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now that you say, 'we see,' your sin remains." I say I see, and that's my problem. I think I really do know what's going on, what the problem is and how to fix it. "Ah! If only they would just listen to me." And what makes this so tricky is the fact that I probably do see some of what the problem is and some of what might help to fix it. But like arrogant Death, I too so easily gobble up what I see only to crumble before what I had not seen. I can blow my horn and confidently affirm the tip that I see, all the while missing the great mass of the issue that I do not see.
This is one reason why gentleness is so important--gentleness with yourself (to a lesser degree) and gentleness with others (to a greater degree). In spite of our blindness we do have to speak, we have to act, make judgements and live in the world. We have to interact with and try to help and encourage those around us. Some people look to the sometimes harsh words and manner of Jesus when he speaks to the Pharisees as a model. I don't think that is a very good idea. Jesus sees everything. We don't.
Still we should speak. When it is appropriate to do so, we must say what we see. But regardless of what we see, we should speak gently and compassionately, keeping in mind that there is much more that we do not see.