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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Me to Us

The idea of needing other people is easy for me to grasp. As a father, I am keenly aware of how much I give to my children. I give them a name. I chose their native language. I raised them in a particular church. I have been decisive in thousands of experiences: I chose their home, their school, their vacations, what they eat and drink, etc. I have limited some choices and expanded others.

Obviously, I was not alone. Mother probably was more decisive. It is also true that my kids made any number of decisions. They were not shaped and formed like clay. They make all sorts of choices, too.

Choices impact others. We are part of numerous systems. We ar one of the moving parts which have effects on other. Even when we withdraw we impact the group. Sometimes the team plays better without us, but there are other times when the team suffers our departure. If the team is playing with too few players it usually finds itself in trouble. There needs to be a reasonable ratio of workers to the job at hand.

What scares me about today is the focus on "Me" has resulted in the illness and death of so many institutions. I am a blood donor. Most blood donors are old. My motivation to give no doubt has elements of self involved, but in the end I do it because it is the right thing to do and people need my blood. People whom I do not know and whom I will never know have used more than ten gallons of my blood. Many have been babies. Is it worth the inconvenience of an hour of time and a needle in my arm. Yes. I hate needles and I am way busy, but yes, saving lives is worth it. It also helps me connect to the wider community. What happens as the number of donors shrinks?

Yesterday at prayer group Jean shared about an Egyptian woman she saw on tv. The woman was cleaning the square after the demonstrations. She said that woman said that Egypt belonged to the people and that the people had to clean it up. Most of us treat the "public square" as someone else's problem. We are not invested in cleaning up common ground. walking through a garbage strewn park in Chicago, following a weekend of ballgames and family picnics, I saw the fruit of that attitude. Civilization is perilous. It can all disappear in a blink. "We" can decide to maintain it. Unfortunately, the growing number of disconnected "Me's" is a deadly threat to all of us.

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