Putting Civil Back into Civilization
It started with a riddle. Someone I greatly respect was given this conundrum by her spiritual teacher many years ago. And she would bring it up for discussion from time to time.
Like a Zen koan, it does not have a simple answer. The question is designed to be pondered until the intellect throws up its hands and steps aside. That capitulation could yield an aha! moment.
Why did Jesus go to the lowest?
There are lots of answers, and you can surely add your own:
• To teach by example
• To show charity toward the unfortunate
• To prove he was a good person
• He saw their need and was moved to take action
• They were willing to believe in him
• To save their souls
• It was the loving thing to do
But to me the real and paradoxical reason Jesus went to them was, he did not see them as any different than himself. He recognized those less fortunate as one with him—the child of the same God. Instead of noting their differences, he focused on their sameness to him.
Jesus didn’t treat people according to their status or economic condition. Their needs and desires were (and are) no different from everyone else’s. And they’re no less deserving of love and kindness. He acknowledged them sharing a common humanity.
Jesus refused to accept society’s view that certain people, or groups, or beliefs, were lesser or flawed for some reason. By going to them, he ignored sanctions against socializing with them. Doubtless, Jesus knew that seeking out social rejects would provoke puzzlement or antagonism about himself. But he didn’t explain his motives.
Jesus spoke often about being motivated by love—it’s the essence of the Christian message. Love cherishes what each of us has in common, no matter what form it takes—and the rest doesn’t matter as much. Seeking out those whom others dismissed as not good enough demonstrated his love of them.
Why don’t we give it a try? That would put civil back into civilization—certainly it’s a step in the right direction.
From Bonbons to Sweeten Your Daily Life or BonBons and Treats (to be released in 2016)