Sunday, May 27, 2012

Community and Commitment

I sincerely believe that what we call religion is the defining of the undefinable. I realize we all need boundaries, so I understand this need, but I refuse to believe that any one generation or group of people has the only truth. Life is not binary; it is not a set of ones and zeros, as much as we would like for it to be that simple.

I believe that personal responsibility is what makes us above other animals, and compassion for the rest of creation is what makes us fully human. The Yiddish have a term for a person who embodies this. I think the highest compliment that one Yiddish person can give another is to call another a "mensch," (a real human being). I think this is rather analogous to a some calling another a "saint" or an "angel on earth."

If we are born with no capacity for free will, as is the case with certain brain injuries and other pre-birth and birth traumas, we will never reach our full humanity without constant guidance from one who is willing to take full responsibility for, not only their own actions, but for the life-time guidance and supervision of another. I am so fortunate that in giving birth, I was never tasked with this decision, but I understand those who don't feel prepared for such a huge commitment, especially those who did not willingly choose to copulate.

It may be that, in times past, there were communities in which all adults shared equally in the care of all, from birth to death. We do not live in such a society. Even the most religious of us are usually not willing or able to commit to being always available to the constant needs of those who are unable to lead full lives. We may be willing to take care of "our own," as in those of our blood, but how many of us are willing or able to commit our full lives to caring for the young, the disabled, the weak, and the dying without need for respite or remuneration?

If religions exist for mutual lifetime commitment to one another, perhaps there will be no more abortion. Until that time, I don't like it, but I understand what leads some to make that decision. I struggled to care for my own children with my limited emotional and physical resources; I know I am unable to start all over at this stage in my life. And even if I was willing and able, chances are I would not outlive the child. Who would commit to taking over at my death?


  1. Many made fun of Mrs. Clinton's book, "It takes A Village", but there is a lot of truth there, as you have aptly put it in part of this entry.
    Growing up, it was sort of that way, where doors were never locked, and neighbors looked after and many times fed kids they barely knew.
    Again I see some neat facts here. I like the term "mensch", sounds realistic!

  2. "It Takes A Village" is a way of life in Africa. But then - in Africa you have a lots of polygamy, where "my mother" is your "second mother" or "third mother" and so on, down the line. This adds meaning to the term "extended family". We are responsible for our "fellow man/fellow woman" but in a limited way. We cannot FORCE our ways on or into the thinking of others. Thought provoking post, Yvette!