From Me to We
The "Me to We" initiative of recent years has really caught on with a lot of young people, high school age and up. They get it. They understand that the preferential individualism that has been preached and drummed into us by our late twentieth-century culture is not where it's really at. They get that we are here to live lives that make other lives enhanced, supported, and even better. They get that all of life among human beings, other creatures and creation itself is interconnected and inter-related. We not only need each other, we need to be a blessing and build right relationships with all kinds of others.
Jean Vanier recognized that decades ago. He devoted the bulk of his life to respecting and helping challenged persons and enabling them to claim their own dignity and worth. In a wonderful collection of his lectures, poems, and other musings called Eruption to Hope, he wrote this poem around 1970-1971:
Too long have we forgotten
that Peter, John, Eileen - mentally deficient - are people.
People who love and want to be loved
who have joys like you and me.
(You see we are normal people ... isn't it nice being normal?)
Peter & John & Eileen have hearts that suffer
when we do not look at them with respect and love.
Too long have they been treated
like perpetual, dependent, incapable children
for whom we must do everything ... "poor creatures."
When will we learn, when will we learn
that Peter & John & Eileen have their rights for they are people
and more - children of God.
We have too long despised them.
We have treated them with pitying paternalism
ignoring their possibilities.
We have forgotten that they want our respect, our love
but not smothering, protective love,
but love made up of esteem and a desire to give life,
possibilities to create, to give, to feel useful to society....
Peter, John, Eileen, you have no voices to cry out.
You cannot go on strike.
Will you forgive society? Will you forgive me?
Christ on the cross cried out, 'My God, my God,
forgive them for they know not what they are doing'.
When you are resurrected will you say that to our Eternal God for us? 'They did not know what they were doing
when they didn't stop to listen to is
to respect us, to help work and live.'
(Isn't it nice being normal ... you and me).
(Eruption to Hope,
I believe we have made some monumental strides towards addressing such concerns and inequities over the past forty-five years. Seems there's still a long way to go. Walking in God's ways, serving in God's world, we as people of faith can yet endeavour to light the way and blaze the trail until all creation finds wholeness of life and fullness of life. So on we go.