Independence is an illusion

Independence is an illusion

February 3, 2013  |  Sunday Letter

This vine grows inside the prison courtyard on Robben Island — offering shade, fruit and hope.

This Harvest Festival we pray for farm workers.

 

Last week we witnessed Paul’s prophetic plagiarism — taking an accepted social theory of his day and turning it on its head. Instead of using the human body as an analogy for the State to protect and promote inequality, as many of the Greek philosophers before him had done, Paul used it to reveal the innate equality and interdependence of all.

Paul reminds us that a body is made up of diverse yet unified parts. To have one without the other is to result in death. The body only works because of its diverse parts all working together for the good of the one body. For the hand to say that it only wants to associate with other hands — that it does not want to be associated with the eye for example is very shortsighted 🙂 Similarly for one group of people to only want to stick together with those who share some common feature is equally shortsighted. Or, for the hand to say I want to be on my own and have nothing to do with any other part would result in its own demise. Independence is an illusion — we are not separate — we are one.

This means to cut someone out of our life is self-mutilation and to kill another is suicide. For when one part of the body suffers (read: another person) then all suffer (read: all people).

In the little book written in the 1970s by Martin Bell, entitled The Way of the Wolf, a little boy is able to hear the wind talking. The wind tells the boy:

Anything that hurts anyone hurts you. Anything that helps anyone helps you. It is not possible to gain from another’s loss or to lose from another’s gain. Your life is immensely important.

Spoken by the wind. Paul would say they were spoken by the Spirit — God’s wind of love — reminding us who we really are — we are one in all our rich diversity.

Grace, Alan



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