That brings conflict to you and me. (We're Only Human After All) I've seen this picture before... and suddenly the new made good is punctured by those around who would be the critics. And what the hell am I talking about, you ask? Well, in the short of it, it's about that much used term dignity. Many like that term; they like what it means. The UN likes that term; they use it as part of their human rights doctrine. Do they extend themselves to others?
The Church uses that term too. She really likes that term; matter of fact, she likes it so well, she teaches it every day. Hmm. The dignity of a human person is what primarily distinguishes it from others. All are deserving of their dignity. The sidebar of this blog even has it on there-- affirm the force and value of a person. Each deserves respect...respect them in the place they are... so as to create a more unified and harmonious world. Some of this may require patience. And yes, it works, this more harmonious world. And very well when we all sing the same song. Does that make sense? Can we talk?
Diane Rizzetto writes in her book, Waking Up To What You Do, a story about a Peace Corps worker in the chapter, Taking Only What is Freely Given: After pedaling miles and miles with a passenger upon his bicycle in rural Africa on a very hot day, they arrived at her destination. He had gone out of his way to take her. "He was exhausted. I was giddy and in awe of him." It was, she says, an act of dana, giving freely and generously. It is not the simple act of giving help, writes Rizzetto.
Instead practicing dana over time teaches openness; this can be profound in working our way through to a more open heart, a heart that sees past anger, jealousy, fear or rejection.
The woman on the bike recounts that looking back to that day, moments before the man offered her a ride on his bike, she felt stranded. But still a part of her was calm because she knew where she was in that place, and then the stranger came and offered her his help. She accepted in the spirit of dana. We can learn.
John, the disciple of the Christ writes: