As we meet every Friday for the Hurricanes Support Group, I learn how interconnected and related we are. I try to imagine myself with no identification of who I am, no picture I.D., no social security card, and wondering when and if I’ll get money from FEMA for my two daughters in grammar school here in Salt Lake City. I try to feel the sense of helplessness that is expressed by those of us who are displaced.
Then I have the startling realization that even though I have all these symbols of identification, I wonder do I really know “who I am” beyond my resume of accomplishments. What would happen if someone asked us to describe ourselves without reference to what we looked like, what country we pledge allegiance to, what accomplishments we have earned, or family status we have. What would we say; after an infinity of silence.
I would like to claim that I am, at the very least, a human being. However, I immediately realize that such a claim has a heavy responsibility! It implies that I have lived and behaved, most of my life, driven by love rather than by the threat of suvival. I have neutralized most of the trappings that distinguish me from others that serve to create status and separation. The result is all that I have left in such a void is my inherent connection to others; all others.
The more we explore this way of being, the more we realize that this web of relationship literally extends to every living soul on the planet. The experience we have is one of overwhelming humility. To think that we are better off simply because we appear to be assured of the basics, with something or a lot extra, does not elevate us in status. We help because it is natural to do so. We support others because we realize how fragile life is thinking we are truly separate from them; all of them! Their tragedy and fate are mirror-reflections of ours; in some aspect of our lives, at present.
This is where my thinking leads me as I stand before the group facilitating our conversations. The group is, in fact, facilitating me! What a gift. At this instant, I realize the real heros of our support efforts are Reverend France Davis and Ernest Timmons (former refugee, evacuee, and presently, new citizen of Salt Lake City). And once again, I am led to the humbling realization that life is simply an infinite web of relationship. The quality we experience is in proportion to what we learn from every encounter that is brought forth, as wisdom, into the next one.
Again, this is one of the messages of the book Animal Kingdom. Every purchase is a 50% contribution to the Support Group Fund.