Writing about what I have been reading and encountering in the media.
|There are many ways to categorize people: short or tall, male, female, Immigrant, citizen etc. The problem with these categories: on the surface, they seem absolute, but not one is absolute. They are based on comparison and contrast. You are only short in the presence of someone taller than you are, but in the presence of people shorter than you, you become tall. This is most true of race. Recently, Ancestry.com has publicized tracing ancestry through genetic testing, and low and behold, at least here in the USA, many people we see as one race are mixed. I have long loved to say “I am a woman, but my father was a man so that makes me half male.”
It has been a necessary part of my career to find my similarity to people. Without that identification, it is hard for me to engage in “unconditional positive regard” and maintain “non-judgmental stance.” To “love my neighbor as myself” has required constant vigilance and when I have failed to do this, I have always lived to regret it. This discipline has led me to think about my similarity not only to other people, but to all life. It led me through vegetarianism to the realization that all life depends on killing other life. It led me to understand that my life does not matter more than yours. It led me to admire people like those in the Charleston Church who stood in their humanity, their radical acceptance, loving their neighbor as themselves rather than packing a sidearm and shooting the shooter. The peace and love of their faith led them to keep the doors open generation after generation building a community of peace that sustains itself beyond the boundaries of their lives. I see this as a form of eternal life. I don’t know if this is what Jesus meant. I wasn’t there when he said it. It is, however an observable fact that the decision to love does not permit the opposite.
When I say I love spinach, I mean I am grateful for the flavor and nutrition it provides and I want to sustain its existence so I can eat more. Unfortunately, I can’t grow it here. It just has never grown for me. So, I depend on others to do this for me. This is community, nurture, harvest, re-plant. If I plant a lot, I can grow less of something else. Then I can trade with someone who planted something else. I have engaged in conversation recently about abortion. I have struggled to articulate my understanding. To me, abortion is like thinning plants so there is enough room to grow healthy plants. I do not believe that human life is more sacred than any other life. I think our current ecological crisis is directly related to overpopulation and I deeply believe that we must reduce our reproduction dramatically. I see people around me who believe we are so important every fertilized egg must be protected. If we follow this course, we will crowd ourselves into starvation and our planet will eventually look like Mars. I believe in honoring life. I believe that irresponsible reproduction is the greatest danger the human race faces. It requires discipline and great love to sacrifice reproduction for the greater good, but it is badly needed. Change begins with me. It is not up to me to change you. It is up to me to live by my values. This is one of my highest values.