13. Creating Transformation in Practice – The Pillar of Caring
Creating Transformation in Practice – The Pillar of Caring
The second pillar of transformation is the pillar of caring for others. These are simple actions – but they take on a powerful significance when they are performed out of a transformative vision for the world.
When it comes to caring, some people do not do these kinds of actions at all. They walk past others who are in some kind of need without noticing – and if they notice, they do not care or find it relevant to them. If the world is not serving their needs or wants, it has no right to demand their attention. If they take actions that appear caring towards others, it is to get something in return.
Some people will take action to care for others when it is easy for them, when the impulse hits, when they notice, when they have the time or inclination. They may not think about why they take these actions. These may be good-natured people. They take action, but they do so more or less unconsciously. Good is brought into the world with their actions, but nothing larger is created when they act – because there is no larger vision that consciously motivates their actions.
The most powerful level of action is those who notice the needs of others at all times and take action (when appropriate) consciously, consistently, and with a sense of larger vision and purpose that motivates their actions. In the case of someone who lives out of a transformative vision of the world, it is because they see themselves as being a partner in creating a world where – like it is stated in the principles – every human being is valuable; every human being has a core of goodness and greatness; every human being deserves respect; all of humanity is interconnected; we are at all times responsible for one another; and we can at all times act in ways that protect, care for and empower humanity and the world.
So from this most powerful of perspectives, when we take an action as simple as helping someone carry a heavy burden, giving a hug, or lending a hand, we do it out of the larger vision that is stated in the principles, and in doing so, we transform the world and reveal its essential unity and greatness.
These actions of caring for others do not have to be sought out. They are there all of the time – all that we have to do is notice. We’ll say more in the future about how one knows when it is appropriate to reach out and give help and when it is not. For the moment, I’d like to share some stories of how this pillar of caring for others can take place:
Late one evening, I was walking in the subway in the middle of Grand Central Station. Even though it was well past the business rush-hour, the station was still crowded with people. As I walked up the stairs and made my way to the shuttle train to Times Square, I passed a young woman. She was about 21 or 22, well-dressed, with shoulder length dark hair, black high heels and a bright red winter coat. Looking into her face as she passed, I noticed that something about her expression looked a little unsure. Seeing me looking at her, she approached me. “Do you know where I can get the uptown train?” She asked me. I pointed her towards the 5 and 6 train platform that I had just exited. “Where are you going?” I asked her. She told me that she was going to East 96th Street. I told her that either the local or express would take her there. She still seemed somewhat unsure – unsteady even. Something told me to dig a little deeper. “Are you okay?” I asked. “No, not really,” She told me. “What’s going on?” I asked. Now I could see that she was definitely a little unsteady on her feet. “My boss ditched me,” she said. Now I could see that she was not only unsteady; she was upset and close to tears. “What happened?” I asked. She confided to me that her new boss had asked her out for drinks after work. She thought that he wanted to talk with her about her work – maybe even give her praise or offer her a promotion. She was thrilled. Instead, the boss plied her with alcohol and then made a pass at her. Aghast, she resisted his advances. When the boss saw that she was not interested in him – was even shocked at his intentions, he left her in the middle of the street and told her to get home on her own. She had just moved to New York and was unfamiliar with the subway and the city streets – even in the best of times when she was not tipsy and upset. At the moment that I had noticed her she was feeling alone, lost, upset and a bit desperate. I looked into her eyes. “You did nothing wrong,” I told her. “Your boss was trying to take advantage of you, and the way he acted towards you was not right”. “What should I do?” she asked. “Look for another job as soon as you can,” I said. “In the meantime, are you going to be okay once you get to your neighborhood?” She assured me that she was. I told her – “If you need any further help or directions, make sure to ask a female.” I wanted to ensure that no unscrupulous person would see her vulnerable state and take advantage of her. I also told her in the future not to drink alcohol with people from work – certainly not her boss. I assured her again that she had done the best she could in the situation and would know better for the next time. She was a young, naive girl at a brand-new job, in a strange city, trying to please her new boss. I showed her again where her train was, and we parted ways. She was thankful that she had met someone who would help her, talk to her, make her feel better – care about her. I was thankful and grateful that the Universe (God, fate, karma – whatever) had put me in that young woman’s path at just the right moment, and that I had noticed her need for help.
Again – while this story is a bit more involved (though it took no more than ten minutes), often caring for someone can be something as simple as guiding a blind person across the street (if they seem unsure of their path), showing someone where to mail a letter, noticing that someone has dropped their hat as they are about to get off the train, helping to lift a suitcase up a flight of stairs, saying a kind or encouraging word to someone who looks like they need it, etc. Many people don’t notice. Some notice but don’t register that help is needed, some notice and perhaps don’t care. Some act when the impulse hits. Much fewer notice consistently and act consistently. Even fewer do so out of a conscious vision and set of principles regarding the world and their role in it as co-creators.