Sunday, July 17, 2011


Two incidents in the same day:

The young man was covered with sawdust and sweat. He leaned into the fender of his truck after a hard day of cutting diseased trees. His eyes were steady as he looked down at his girlfriend sitting on the fender. One by one he spit cherry pits at her. She winced and then smiled like it was no big deal. Then he said to her while chewing: "You're expendable." Her face blanched white as the bark on the fallen cottonwood. I said "You should treat your girlfriend better." The boy-man turned his face to the ground, spit and then just walked away.

A graying man stood clutching his smart phone. His face was down turned. His hands in his pleated pockets, with a hint of a gold watch gleaming just above the fine twill. He was telling his woes about the nasty business cycle, how he has to ride on commercial planes now, how he has to work a sixty hour week.

He was bemoaning a failed venture of firing his American employees and moving his factory to Mexico. "The labor costs were killing me. So I got rid of all of them. I was set for an easier life and lower overhead. But that didn't work out."

"What happened?" I asked. "The product (from Mexico) just wasn't the same. So I let all of those (people) go too and came back."

Two men, one virile and young. One older and soft in body. Both were hard in the heart.

What ties these two opposite men together?
What makes them think that human beings are expendable or created as cogs in a money machine?
How did huMANity get to this place where civility and kindness are demeaned along with women, minorities and other men?

In these two conversations I was struck with the continuum of dehumanization and domination of the other. I found both men's attitude repulsive. And I also found myself participating in their attitudes. Toward the first man my first thought was "Well, you're the one that is expendable." Toward the second I made an instant judgment about those with unrestrained privilege and wealth.

I wonder how to live without separating myself from the humanity of others?
What part do I continue to play in looking down at people instead of listening to what's beneath their pain and bad choices?
What brought this disempowerment and societal sadness into bloom?
Are men just like this?
What role do family and women play in this system of soul usury?

Many questions. No sturdy, steady answers.
All I can do is be free and stand up for the freedom and basic rights of other beings.

Yet I am sometimes left with a lingering fear of the disregard and hateful order these men represent. One, a working man. One, a corporate boss. Both, disempowering others even as they diminish the integrity their own heart. Both are human beings. And both are worthy of basic rights and love too.

I'm left with more questions about how to navigate the difficult middle path of fierce love and strong boundaries.


(c) Copyright, Rick Sievers, July 2011