Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Define "Failure," Please...

I did that thing I haven't done in years: I turned on the talk radio for a moment during a drive.  It's health care reform discussion, naturally---well, not health care reform so much as the usual partisan bickering.

Naturally, these talk radio shows themselves thrive and thereby profit from the extreme divisiveness, so it is entertaining to no end to hear listeners being swept away by accusations of partisanship... but it is also sad to hear so many people so passionately rabid about ideas, particularly when the ideas themselves are not connected to any direct experience of their own.

"Because of my ideas about patriotism, I think everyone should do this." "Because of my ideas about compassion, I think everyone should do that." But who really examines these ideas? Who checks their sources?

"I worked hard for this money; I don't want anyone to take it from me." "That person is a deadbeat; why should I support him." "Everyone must have healthcare; it should be legislated." "Personal responsibility is the conerstone of the American Way; get rid of the entire social service infrastructure."

There are as many different points of view as there are people doing the viewing, but then there are some more.  Speaking only for myself, I have talents, shortcomings, and experience. In any situation, I have genetic and conditioned predispositions that might shape my gut response, including the range of what I am capable of in response.  You're in the same boat, right?

So, if someone with medical training sees an injured person, what should he do?  What would stand in the way of a healer healing? Is it the money? Is it the legal culpability if something goes awry? Would it be because the person does not deserve the help in someone's view?  Because the healer would like to teach the patient a lesson? Because the healer has different ethics than the patient?

What should the healer do?  If you asked me, I'd answer: "Physician, heal thyself."

Within your own circumstances right now, the thought that comes between what enters your consciousness and your response to it is something to be examined, particularly if this thought traps you with feelings of regret and other suffering, and particularly if this thought is not in fact your own.

But what to do after you stumble? Will you carry the thought that you failed forward?  It is true: from moment to moment, your circumstances are changed, but this is true whether or not you bring the thought of failure with you. Can you see what is in front of you clearly carrying failure behind you?

Many say we the people were failing before the reform bill was signed. Many say we the people are now failing after the reform bill was signed.  There is failure either way; what should we do?

If you ask me, I'll tell you quite simply: If you see someone is hungry, feed him.

This morning I answered this way and someone responded: "If you give a man a fish, you've fed him for the rest of the day. If you teach a man to fish, you've fed him for the rest of his life." Whose idea is this? Does it match your own circumstances right now? Is this piece of wisdom the rule for every instance? How would you behave if it was?

Regardless, I responded: If you see someone who needs to be taught to fish, teach him to fish. If you see someone is hungry, feed him.

Life can be this simple.  "Be like water," Bruce Lee might say, though I would add "...unless you are not water, of course."

Examine your thoughts. Clear your mind. Find your way. Follow it.


Belle said...

Hi! Just wanted to say that I like your blog. Definitely some interesting thoughts to mull over.

Ordinary Joe said...

Thank you, Belle. Really, there is no shortage of topics these days :-)

Luna said...

as a healer of animals.. I know how to heal.. and it is an instinct... you are injured I know what to do... I just do it.. without a hesitation.. grant it at a car accident I defer to the pros but if no one was there, but me would I help OF COURSE.
Is that not how we should walk through this world?
I can't give everything and leave me with nothing.. but give what I can, where I can, when I can, and when I can't I don't beat myself up about it, I think a good thought that someone will come who can help.
Will we all get there?
I like to think we will :-)

isabella mori (@moritherapy) said...

yes yes yes about the fish story! having been in the helping profession for 20 years, i have heard this story many times, and have grown more and more irritated it over time, especially since it is often pronounced as a profound wisdom. but what's wrong with simply interacting as humans? isn't it a natural instinct for most of us to share our food when we see someone beside us hungry? and isn't it bloody impolite to say, no, i'm gonna teach you how to fish? i mean, when you ask me what time it is, i won't say "here, have some licorice".

rant over :)