Saturday, March 10, 2007

"Do not use a man as a means..."

George Fox is quoted as saying "Do not use a man as a means, see him as his own end" (or something like that) in the book by Jan de Hartog Peaceable Kingdom.
I got the newest issue of Utne Reader yesterday and the new editor, David Schimke, in his column "Editor's Note" writes about a media conference he attended recently. He describes the speakers and panel discussions full of "3,200 activists, educators from several small black colleges, and celebrity journalists Bill Moyers and Amy Goodman..." He goes on to write, "Still, from time to time, I couldn't help but wonder whether, to many of us well-intentioned conferees, the hotel staff became invisible..."
When standing in a long check-out line at the grocery store, when walking down the street and seeing a homeless man, when encountering a group of rough-looking youth, what does one do? I usually try to make eye contact. Often I will smile and say "howdy". Sometimes though, when I'm harried or distracted, I do not see them as individuals. Sometimes I don't make eye contact and I treat the checker as a means to receive my change so I can take my milk and bread purchase home in time to make supper.
Seeing 'that of God' is oftentimes in the details. I am not here on this earth in a vacuum; this is not my queendom. I am connected to every soul, every body, every person. I am an emissary of Divine Love. If I do not see that of God in each person I encounter, I am reducing myself and that person to less than children of God. Through my eyes and my mouth I will make connections today. Just a smile, a word of acknowledgment, a gesture, eye contact is all it takes to go from impersonal and apathetic to personal and connected. Today I will try to see each person as his or her own end and not as my means.

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