From a ‘Sleepy eye’ to a ‘Roving eye’ to make a difference:
A reflection: we are the others
From the life of Mother Teresa we glean this incident of Christian love.
“On her rounds in the neighborhood she came upon an old lady who was very sick and consequently always in a bad mood. She lived alone in a small room under a staircase in a very pitiful condition. When Mother Teresa first came to meet her she was greeted by the ire of the old woman. However she stuck on. All she did was light a candle in the dark room and sit in silence by the side of the old woman. She did this daily. Even when she couldn’t come she would send two sisters who would tidy up the place and light a lamp in the dark room.”
This is what I mean of moving from a ‘sleepy eye’ to a ‘roving eye’. A sleepy eye is a congenital disease which is progressive and results in losing sight in that eye. You end up seeing or noticing nothing. On other hand a ‘roving eye’ is a term first used for pirates on the high seas. With their telescopes the scanned the horizon never missing a detail, taking in everything not being selective.
If I were to extrapolate this ‘sleepy eye’ and ‘roving eye’ to our lives, with a little introspection we would realize what we ‘see’ and pay attention to has its affirmation in our basic attitude.
We would be like ‘Dives’ of the Gospel. The rich man who never noticed Lazarus the destitute outside his house, or we could be a surveyor who takes heart-moving pictures, makes statistics of the poor in the world and end up with an award for himself. Can we make a difference? Can we be courageous to act?
Let us not be those who take a panoramic view of structures but zoom in close to people’s lives. Look into the favelas of
the ghettos of the U.S., the barrios
of Cuba, the bastis of India.
This year’s theme for the
Mission is “WE ARE THE OTHERS”, to increase our awareness of migrants. It aims
at making us realize that we too are wayfarers in the journey of life. That
what problems migrants face are synonymous to our own problems. The problems
such as displacement due to war, unemployment, social ostracization, even
ethnic violence are some that cause people to leave their homeland. Sometimes
we deem to turn a blind eye to all that happens with the feeling that it is
another’s job to fulfill. It is not ours to demand justice and equal rights for
them. We may feel ‘who are we?’
Yet the moment we realize that we are the others equity or egalitarianism will not be a criteria instead they will be the outcome or consequence. The ideal that will permeate will be the “Golden Rule”. With charity at its very substratum which grows form a humility where we don’t put ourselves down but we uphold the need to go out and help. A famous quote speaks thus, “A Christian must not stand at the threshold of the door waiting to be invited, but must go out and be like yeast whose very presence permeates justice, truth, and charity.
Yet how would this be. It would only come to pass if we NOTICED, SAW AND DECIDED TO ACT, thus the analogy of the ‘sleepy eye’ and the ‘roving eye’. Jacque Derrida would say to spur us into doing something for another it take ‘madness’ at the moment of the ‘decision’ a madness that disregards all absolutes and make a choice to do something for another. Although this is his own bent of thought I would like to juxtapose it with something I read in Teresio Bosco’s biography of Don Bosco.“The undivided heart that does not know half measures, faces the challenges of reality, and transforms human patience into Christian impatience. To the timorous promptings of ‘Common Sense’ it answers with enthusiasm. The saints have common sense, and lots of it, but we always notice it afterwards (post factum) their behaviour looks like madness, but is instead a great act of faith in God and in human beings not a passive faith awaiting everything from heaven, but a faith springing from vision and from adventure, a faith that goes on the offensive. Don Bosco was animated by this kind of faith rooted in love.” Hence the need to reach out to those in needs thinking as if they were our own.
Thus we would have to keep our eyes open and be courageous to help, come what may. Jesus said ‘give without counting the cost.’ In today’s jargon I reckon it would be ‘cost effectiveness’. He said if someone asks you your coat give your shirt as well. But then we would think that this would make the other rich and myself poor. However have you thought of it that the person edified by your generosity in turn gave away your coat (now his) to one more impoverished than himself and thus you’ve helped not one but two persons. Your roving eye made a difference. Just like Mother Teresa when she made a difference in that old lady’s life, by lighting a candle in that dark room every day. She had lit the candle of hope in the heart of that destitute lady.
It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness, for in sharing its flame with another candle the brightness is not halved but doubled.