Saturday, March 3, 2012

on "Helping, Fixing, Serving"

I loved the ideas presented in this reading by Rachel Remen, the difference between helping, fixing, and serving.  To merely "help" someone is to see them as weak, when you try to "fix" something you see someone as broken, but when you "serve" you see them as whole, and deserving of strengthening, or I'd like to add, see yourself as deserving of strengthening, which is why you spend the time to serve at all.

But sometimes people aren't strong, and sometimes they are broken, and so what do you do then?  I'm thinking of times in my life when I was most certainly in need of healing, and usually no one came around to help me with the process.  If we're talking about a Field Study, I'm aware of the point this reading is trying to make, and I'm aware that it isn't our place to assume that we are the ones who can strengthen, or "fix" others.  I think that's a good assumption to make because to see something in need of fixing is to see something broken, and many an unbroken cultures have been "fixed" to their and the worlds' detriment.  I don't even begin to think that the relationships I will have with people in the Field will be of any great benefit to them.

But, to me, I think there is great potential.

I think every being is in great need of healing.  Nothing particularly traumatic has ever happened to me, but I live in trauma every day.  I've been profoundly hurt.  I've been left bleeding, figuratively speaking.  And I don't think it's wrong for someone to see me bleeding and come to help me along as the wound heals.  Or, in that case, when we see a wrong being done to someone, our own beliefs should  never get in the way.  How many times has someone been hurting me, and someone could have said something, stood up for me, helped, but they didn't, afraid it would offend, afraid it would be misconstrued, afraid of being hurt themselves.  That's fair.  But fear should never get in the way of doing right.  This reminds me of a scripture, Hebrews 2:15 saying that Christ would come "and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage."

This scripture, the first time I consciously read it, screamed at me "The Holocaust."  It was the 20th century when this evil happened, when this profound lack of humanity took place.  The Holocaust.  But people were so afraid of death that they were "all their lifetime subject to bondage" which really probably isn't too much better than death.  I can't say that death is better than bondage because I don't think that's necessarily true.  I think it depends on the death, it depends on the bondage, it depends on the person, and it depends on the hope at the end of the road.  But I do think that we can't let fear, no matter how small a matter, bind us to silence while others suffer, no matter how small we perceive the suffering.

For this reason, I think our presence can heal people we don't know are hurt or in need of healing.  What I mean to say, is that we can make a profound difference in the lives of individuals, like Remen mentioned about the woman to treated her as a human being, who spent time on her, rather than treating her like a patient.  I think if we operate under the assumption that no one needs to be fixed, or aided out of weakness or brokenness, but instead assume that everyone is deserving of our respect, our time, and our care, we are "serving" and maybe doing a little healing at the same time.

In tenth grade I had a close friend hurt me rather badly.  She didn't stay around to watch the hurt, and certainly didn't stick around to try to mend the hurt.  But that year I met someone who probably didn't notice I was hurting, but spent time on me, treated me as whole, and through him I became whole again.  He has always treated me that way, as a whole person, even when he himself has hurt me.  This can be damaging sometimes, for someone who cuts into you without noticing and then treats you as if you are unhurt, but the point of the matter is that because he treats me as whole, I know I will be again, someday.  And that's why I don't think that helping, fixing and serving are wholly separate.  I think they are all one thing but three ways of going about doing it and only one of them can be done with humility.

Having said all this, however, I understand the point being made, and I emphatically agree that we need the point to get through to our heart.  I like what Remen says about service, that when we "help" it is our strength that helps anothers' weakness.  But when we "serve" it is our limitations, our wounds, and our darkness' which we draw on to be of comfort and to help us understand the people around us.

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