Humanity’s Gifts Arrive from Compassion and Active Support of Need
This morning I received an email from a friend linking to a post by Nicholas Kristof, opinion columnist at the NYTimes. “Triumph of a Dreamer”, 11/14/09. http://topics.nytimes.com/top/opinion/editorialsandoped/oped/columnists/nicholasdkristof/index.html?inline=nyt-per
Kristof’s piece tells the story of Tererai Trent, born in rural Zimbabwe, without means, yet who in December of this year will achieve a PhD at Western Michigan University. I urge you to follow the link and read this story in detail.
I began a reply to my friend who forwarded the story to me; as is common for me, my reply became a ‘blog post’. I offer my thoughts here:
Wonderful! And I’m so glad for the writer’s statement: talent is universal, and also for his giving enough detail about Tererai’s journey to make clear that along the way she received a range of kinds of support, from her village and strangers – people who had no ‘real reason’ to help, but who learned of her circumstances and took action.
I believe with all my heart that millions we see about us everywhere who appear “failures” are very often “Tererai’s” whose dreams were set aside or internally silenced, and will die with them. Many of these people bring their gifts to the table, as they can, in the context of their socially deemed “failure”. They practice (choose) compassion and generosity to people, to animals, and to plants, from their own impoverished pockets in situations that come up in constricted lives. We seldom know.
The “marriage” of “bent of personality at birth” and “early years of family/social influence” is peculiar and powerful to individual outcome. Too many , far too early, learn to “back off” private dreams, to swallow them. Tererai’s birth personality and early experience did not have this effect on her. All humanity benefits from start to finish when the spark of gift within a single individual is nurtured and allowed to develop.
As a consequence of her uniqueness, and surrounding supports, Tererai demonstrates the remarkable power of private dreams, (as does William Kamkwamba, “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind”, and doubtless countless millions whose stories we will not learn.) This type of dream, and humanity’s support of them, benefit all.
We would do well to keep this in mind and practice (choose) accordingly – to believe in the gift of each – adult or child. (We have inclination to ‘dismiss’ adult potential as ‘past value of intervention. If we “cannot see” an adult as “already successful”, we are inclined to judge them “less worthy”. of social policy, for example, that might be of help, cannot “see” the benefit that might come to all humanity. (Who is each of us to judge another’s potential as “deserving” our help or not? Who is each of us to judge a “failed” adult as “beyond help” based on cost/benefit analysis of their being “past useful time to be of benefit to the rest of us”?) (I side-track here on our inclination to judge adult ‘value’ . It does not really fit the story. But it applies as a consideration in our constant run of ‘judgement’ against one another – our inclination to cast ‘value’ in terms of “recognizeable, nameable pay-off” – without considering what is meant by “unconditional regard of value of Life”.)
The story of Tererai – from start to where it is today – is rich with detail to be examined.
At the individual level we see potential within each at birth; individuals not “broken”, but supported, bring strong gifts to the table (Tererai). Individuals can choose to practice support of another’s gifts (notice need and interrupt their own lives to help.)
Also to be noticed is social policy and regulation. She was able to bring her family with her; she was able to say “enough” when spousal beatings were a reality and send her husband home. She was later able to bring her husband back into her life. Each of these steps could have been thwarted by institutionalized social policy and regulation. We can monitor social policy and regulation for its support (or not) of human well-being. (Non-profit health care for instance!)
Tererai held to a larger (“not just me”) vision throughout. She linked her path to benefit, behalf, of other women. She held to the needs of her children. She practiced deep compassion when her husband was at his most vulnerable and in great need. The butterfly effect of her practices moves throughout humanity like a silent gift that flows, touching every space like air, like breath.
Unknown, indescribable, is the internal experience of each who helped along the way: “Heart-rewards” of each villager, and each who helped in Oklahoma, including the “stand-alone” WalMart employee who made groceries available. Every time each of us opens our heart, our personal load becomes lighter – a private experience that benefits all humanity. A key here is that each actually took action so that “real and tangible” support was offered.
This entire story is full of “butterfly effect” activity of the most heart-driven type. How wonderful!
When you check out the link, you will find Kristof writes of misery and triumph across this globe. A second story that caught my attention, equally rich with “butterfly effect” consequences of heart-driven compassionate real and tangible action, is “The Illiterate Surgeon”, 06/12/2005. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E05E1DF1E38F931A25755C0A9639C8B63.
If EVER we required human life stories to teach us to value each and every contributor – from these remarkable women to those of lesser “success” who have helped them on their way, we now have it. These stories teach us the blessedness of every single life on this planet.
All Humanity benefits when we choose real and tangible helpful response that honors and supports the sacred in all life, everywhere, and treat as “sacred dream-holders” each and every human.
My Very Best To Each of You! – MaggieAnn
(Post script: I don’t want to ‘taint’ the tone of my today’s post with blatent political ‘argument’ but would ask Libertarian’s to consider what is written above!)