Wednesday, December 6, 2006

consolation and survival reinforcement

"A hurtful act is the transference to others of the degradation which we bear in ourselves."

~Simone Weil

The course of human events is rife with injustice and brutality. One would think we didn't really have free will, since we carry a penchant for the infliction of torment from the broad spheres of politics and warfare right into our homes and interpersonal relations. That it is the popular choice to select spite over and above compassion, on such a widespread level, is astounding and ironic. All of which helps clarify why generosity and compromise really do comprise what is truly counter-cultural. The way of understanding and agapé is the bolder, nobler, yet more demanding course of action. But alas the daring are few in number, and it is all so easy to slink back into the prevailing flow of careless indulgence. Again, that tide is societal, and it plays out in the microcosms of human rapports.

From a filthy and deathly Roman prison, the apostle Paul was able to find it within himself to pen some words of mentoring consolation to his protegé Timothy. They persisted against the double deficits of being Jews in the hostile Empire, as well as Nazarene disciples. And under his merciless arrestation, Paul knew what the younger Timothy must've been enduring out in the world. In that second epistle, in the second section of that letter, Paul succinctly begins to declare with, "Remember." This powerful word reminds us that we can console ourselves and others by compassionately reminding and reinforcing. Remember what Mom used to say. Remember how we used to do this, or go there. Remember the time this or that happened. Remember that I will always love you from the depths of my heart. Paul knows Timothy needs to be brought to recollection: "Remember the son of David who was raised from the dead; this is my very best news." He essentially tells his student that the glorious impossible actually happened.

But certainly to reassure and care are not confined to "religious"spheres. These are choices that are bestowed upon the human condition- to be practiced or refused. As with any discipline the practice is along the more humbling road, but it is so worthwhile that the sensitized see no other option.

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