I thought I would write a follow up to our recent letter, You’re Worthless. It sort of stirred something up and I overheard a conversation or two.
Let me start by setting the scene. As I write I am currently looking out of the window onto mountains. Yes, I am not at home today. Right now it’s 6.00AM and the mountains look very different from the way they appeared yesterday evening. The sun is rising and creating a palate of colours that didn’t exist as I last sat looking. Even as I pause to contemplate the scene, changes are happening. It’s a living canvas.
Now what I am hearing from what I am seeing (remember the Great Spirit speaks in a myriad of ways…not just words) is that a thing can look very different when seen from an alternate light, at another time or from a differing angle. And I am mindful that this insight can be applied not only to mountains but in other situation such as dealing with people.
It takes a great deal of courage to see the world in all its tainted glory and still love it.Oscar Wilde
You’ve heard the admonition: ‘See the best in people’? I hope I told you that at some point. Well if you’re like me you will have seen a person day after day and despaired of finding the best. They turn up with their shit day by day. No changes, and you’d be forgiven for despairing of any goodness. Now take the changing mountains. If I was only to see them in the evening I would know them as grey, long shadowed and a little bleak. Apart from their height and a little snow on top, just another mountain (the fact that I even said that might indicate I’m travelling far too much!). That would be my perception and understanding of mountains. But in the morning they look so different. New colours. Better shadows. Stunning contrasts.
You get what I’m saying badly?
If I only see mountains in the evenings I miss so much of their potential to impress. And so with people I’m thinking. If I make my single judgement from an oft repeated situation am I really seeing the best? Moreover, if I’m struggling to find anything that I consider worth in another person (and I need to consider what I define as worth) rather than write them off should I not be asking why they are as they are? What causes them to behave, think, talk like this? Someone said that unless you have walked in another’s shoes you are in no place to pass comment. Let me give you a true life illustration.
A man, we’ll call him Ned, takes a train early in the morning. Already there are passengers aboard including a man with two young children. As the train pulls away the man seems oblivious to the boisterous noisy behaviour of his children. Not so other passengers who begin to tut and pass comments as the journey continues giving disapproving looks. However, the man remains lost in his thoughts so Ned made his way down the carriage and sat in the seat opposite. After a period of silence he eventually asks if everything is alright. The man looks up and, eyes filled with tears, explains how he’s come from the hospital where his wife just died. And he doesn’t know what to do.
A very sad story. Sorry for that. But you get how seeing things from a different place changes everything. Our criticism of a father who’s children are not being controlled is changed to a heart of compassion when we take time to see things differently.
Let’s return to the last letter that I wrote to you about people who are the victims of abuse and have, due to the abuse, ended up husks of the person they have the potential of being. Self worth destroyed. Confidence dashed. Living a life with fear internalised and a constant companion. Some telling a lie that they deserved what they got. Broken people.
Now the world will often accept the persons self assessment. Most opt not to get involved. It’s an age old strategy as storyialized (I think that’s a new word) by Jesus himself in his telling of the tale of the Good Samaritan. Remember how the reaction of the world is to pass by on the other side? To look clear past? The easy option is believe someone who says they have no value and as such affirm and strengthen their belief. The path of least resistance is written into physics.
But for those who dare, who are prepared to take the time and search out a different view, to see a person from another angle, there may be hope. For the person prepared to patiently wait and try to understand why another is so damaged there may be an opportunity. An opportunity to gift life where there is only existence.
True leaders are proudest when elevating othersThe She-Compass Show
Now I’ve mentioned Jesus my mind keeps returning to his examples. How he found worth in social outcasts and how his interest in them caused lost, pained, lives to change. Just the fact that he would sit with them at their tables and share hospitality when others ignored, or worse, was enough to start a revolution in their lives. Just thinking at a tangent for a second but have you ever considered that Jesus was crucified as much for the table fellowship he kept as anything else?
Are you and I ready to invest the time to see the difference in people? Viewed from here it is an absolute inconvenience, a potential waste, but as said at the start of this letter, time spent viewing the mountain proved an unexpected delight. The dull grey slabs of rock hid immense potential when time was taken to see it.
Back in the day I remember reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintainence by Robert Pirsig. It was a bit of a cult classic. At one point Robert tells of a young man who grossly under achieves at school and whose sole interest is motorcycles. After leaving school someone took time and got the young man a job in a motorcycle repair shop. He takes to this like a bear to honey. A person written off by many due to a lack of educational aspirations began to blossom. But it doesn’t end there. Oh no. His benefactor continues with him until five or six years latter he has helped the young man advance his interest in mechanics to such a stage that he is now ready to take a mechanical engineering degree. A life viewed from a different perspective?
Time. I know you more than I don’t have a great deal of spare time but let me encourage you to invest just a little in someone else. Maybe each day. Don’t go looking. They will cross your path if you’re open. Like Jesus, and I know that’s who you strive to be like, share a moment, speak only kind words to a person who is struggling. Believe me, a little kindness goes a long way in a life devoid of kindness. If kindness had a wash setting it would be gentle rinse but it has power to change. A little may be all the abused, the hurting can manage. It is a long haul, a life decision to seek potential in those who have been written off. Another angle may be a while in appearing but every damaged person has one.
Taking a broken, hurting person from their misery on the journey to their potential may be the greatest thing you do in life.Wic
Remember, right back at the start of the letters I said we’d have our own revolution? Is this to be part of it? Non-judgementalism? Believing in the potential laying dormant in so many, often going a lifetime unrealised? Imagine we could help a victim find potential. That would be a revolution wouldn’t it? Tell me your thoughts.
So, once again I bid you farewell. Have a good day and spend your kindness wisely.
Yours, stoking the fires of revolution, maybe,