As this pandemic progresses I sometimes wonder if some of us forget we are all in this life together. We too quickly forget we all actually depend on one another to survive. And that dependence spreads exponentially. I depend on you, you depend on someone, that someone depends on someone else and before long we realise every human being on this earth is inter-connected in some way to every other human being. We are actually “our brother’s keeper”.
This is really true in more ways than one, we can actually see and experience the effects of the opposite. We all see the effects of isolation in society. Even before this pandemic forced us back into our homes and distance ourselves from one another, we were witnessing increasing levels of loneliness, depression and psychiatric illness from people who were simply afraid of getting to know their neighbour.
That was when economic rationalism reigned supreme. Human beings were regarded as economic units rather than individuals and society was downplayed to the status of an economy. Business leaders were seen as important when all the evidence showed they were simply human beings just like us. No better, no worse, no more intelligent, just cleverer at accumulating riches. Often if you dug deep you would find a (kind of) ugliness in many of them as they clawed over their competitors in the race to the top. Now I have to once again say that is not all of them. I have met some wonderful business leaders, but I have come face to face with some who are real bastards too. The type who would sell their soul and yours for riches.
Years and years ago my mentor, the Rev Ted Noffs, would proclaim “people matter most”. He showed that was true in establishing the Wayside Chapel where people did matter most. There all types of human beings, the rich, the poor, the famous and the infamous found a sense of solace.
Time after time as the years have gone by, I have witnessed that “people matter most” for myself. For example, one thing I have learned is that a true leader is like a shepherd. If this had been the case with every leader, we would not have inherited the world we have today. A world where physical force reigns supreme. A world of winners and losers, lifters and leaners, haves and have nots. A world where the rich seem to be rapidly getting richer whilst the poor are falling even further behind.
Because we collectively have not looked after one another, we now find those very human beings we have neglected in the rush to “get somewhere” living in conditions where this Coronavirus can find a home, incubate and spread out to the whole world.
I am sure in time now this awareness will come and bring change like what happened after World War II in England. There, the pitiful state of children from poverty-stricken families who were billeted out to middle-class people led to an awareness and ultimately agitation to establish, amongst other things, the National Health Service. Here, right now in Australia and overseas, we are particularly seeing this decades of neglect emphasized in the unnecessary deaths of so many in aged care homes. Similarly, in the vulnerability of the living conditions of the poor and needy. My guess is the legal repercussions of this neglect will go on for decades.
This “treating everything as an economic issue” has, in my opinion, led to a dehumanizing of what we can loosely call welfare, so it becomes a job rather than a mission or a calling. I get very sad at the way some NGOs regard themselves as an industry rather than an expression of the spiritual truth that every human being on this earth matters.
Without an idea that every human being who draws breath on this earth has been born with an entitlement to achieve their full potential, humanity itself is heading for a dead end.
Almost every day I witness the beauty of the human soul. Usually I see this in people who have hit the bottom in their lives and there is nowhere further down to drop. It is there they find and admit their helplessness and in that very act a way forward appears.
For people who have reached that point, they find their lives change. What was important falls away and truth, honesty and integrity shine through.
At that point there is no colour, no race, no class, no economy only loving compassion.
When we are at our wits end only loving compassion survives.
Probably the most moving time of my life was with a young mother whose beloved only baby, she found dead in a cot death.
As she plunged the depths of mourning all she could talk about was love. Those who loved her and those she loved.
I gained the enormous privilege of looking deeply into her soul and seeing there a beautiful candle flame. That flame had been battered and bruised by the winds of life but was still burning, only just.
It was like that night I saw God.
I do a lot of mindfulness meditation. What I have found is when I lose myself in that, that is when I lose myself in the all-encompassing now, the surrounding environment and the “talking” of my organs I find myself within a loving presence that defies belief. That loving presence is healing and encompasses all life.
I feel that is what we need to reconnect with today. In this reconnection a better world can be born. A world which is not just for the privileged but for everyone.
Bring it on.