‘The Least of These’ Are Our True Teachers

The first step to healing our broken world is to find the teachers who will lead us. For too long, we have looked to the blessed to teach the unfortunate. It is the other way around.  The holders of privilege may be partners in this struggle if they choose. But they are not our teachers.

If we want to learn, we must turn to those who have something to say.

We must turn to the landless, the dispossessed. Those who have learned, over the course of generations, to weave the ties of their culture through song and story, rather than through land…

They are our teachers now.

We must turn to the sick, the powerless, and the weak — those who have always had to find their own success and happiness through means other than brute force…

They are our teachers now.

We must turn to the insane and the mentally ill — all those those who cherish as a gift any day in one’s right mind. All those who know first hand the truth; that there is no Heaven or Hell, but what the mind makes of it…

They are our teachers now.

We must turn to the women of the world, downtrodden for countless generations, yet still the first to give love, kindness, and compassion.

They are our teachers now.

We must turn to the children of the world, who see with clear eyes what is right, before the world teaches them to doubt…

They are our teachers now.

We must turn to the elders of the world, who can help us embrace the best of the new, while holding tight to the best of tradition…

They are our teachers now.

We must turn to the sensitive, those who have a damaged response to a damaged world. Like the canaries in the coal mine, they offer a warning that is important for us all, if we wish to survive…

They are our teachers now.

We must turn to the castoffs of the world – the throwaways – all who have been made to feel it would have been better if they had never been born. They know better than anyone the value of kindness and inclusion…

They are our teachers now.

For years, those with money and privilege have turned to the poor and said, Learn from us. But I say to the wealthy, humble yourselves before the poor, and learn from those whom you would cast aside. Let those who have gone before you in suffering help lead the way to the end of suffering. Let us all learn from those who, in the face of hardship, have somehow managed to keep their own small flames alive.

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One comment on “‘The Least of These’ Are Our True Teachers

  1. Notes – here are some quotes that helped to inspire this essay:

    (1) “Black people…really had to use whatever territory we could create to take care of the business of making a people. And often that territory was not land. Often that territory was cultural. Which is why African-American culture is one of the most powerful in the world.” – Bernice Johnson-Reagon, The Songs are Free (PBS Documentary)

    Link: http://blip.tv/bill-moyers-journal/the-songs-are-free-with-bernice-johnson-reagon-500426

    (2) “Strength that comes from adversity does not weaken in the face of adversity.” – Joseph M. Marshall III

    Llink: http://www.amazon.com/Keep-Going-Perseverance-Joseph-Marshall/dp/1402766181/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1377439598&sr=1-3

    (3) ““We have yet to deploy what could prove to be the most powerful weapon in the fight to…improve the quality of health care: our own humility.” – Dr. Pauline Chen, What We Can Learn from Third-World Health Care (New York Times)

    Link: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/26/what-we-can-learn-from-third-world-health-care/?ref=views&_r=0&gwh=87202FA59267D4E1634E4C7CC04589C0

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