- TWIL (This Week I Learned)
This week I contemplated benevolence.
…and all its cringey undertones.
This week I noticed, day after day, the pure joy — like an electricity — as people found each other, hugged, laughed, and celebrated. The culmination: Watching the flow of lantern bearing people stream into Lakeside Park for the Polkadot Lantern Festival.
We had just returned from walking for The Coldest Night of the Year to raise money for unhoused people in our community.
The pure joy of people coming together in the park on the heels of walking to stop homelessness unsettled me.
“I am often struck by the dangerous narcissism fostered by spiritual rhetoric that pays so much attention to individual self-improvement and so little to the practice of love within the context of community.” ― Bell Hooks, All About Love: New Visions
“We believe in empowering the youth of today to care. We need them to exercise their right to vote for change.” — Uchechukwu Dorothy Anagboso
Not that we should all be very solemn all day every day until everyone is happy.
That’s not quite benevolence.
That reminds me very much of certain elementary school days, one in particular, when we all had to keep our heads down on our desks until the one who shot the rubber band across the room hitting a classmate in the head would come forward. I still remember thinking that if the teacher would just listen, we could explain what happen. We all saw it. It was an accident.
I think we all know how to listen when what is said is what we are expecting to hear.
Can you think of a time when you realized that you were not being heard?
Not hearing. I think it’s pretty common these days. Sometimes I think what passes for benevolence is us spewing pixie dust and glitter around so that we can’t hear what those who are suffering are actually saying.
And I think we have all been guilty of this. My guess is that we are out of practice. We likely have rarely been deeply listened to unless we are paying for the service (an important service!).
I think it’s time to practice. Try tuning your spidey senses this week and really listen in until you hear a way to care for the well-being of someone and then do it. Or simply stay with that person as you hear them.
5. Level-UP / Go Deeper
And what if that person is slightly outside your most inner circle? And what if what they need is not what you think they need?