As my departure date grows nearer, it is natural to become more reflective and to share some thoughts about becoming an Amizade volunteer especially with those of you I have befriended through Bend, Oregon, Daily Photo. Most important to me is to admit that I am not a particularly compassionate person nor do I deserve to be viewed as an exemplary person living on some moral high ground since I am going on this trip. In fact I have lived a particularly selfish existence. I have made some paltry financial contributions to community service organizations and have done some community service, but for the most part, I struggle to find even a modicum of genuine positive feeling toward the poor, the sick, or the oppressed. In my heart I have cared about my survival and that's about it. And I don't feel guilty about it either. I may have presented myself throughout my life as a liberal humanist, but in truth, even though intellectually I espouse an ethically elevated community-minded position, it has been, to some degree, hypocritical. Actually I have felt strangely alienated from like-minded contemporaries and have looked on with suspicion at the alleged purity of their actions, believing that an aura of good will has more to do with creating an identity or job and to perpetuate the illusion of the "caring individual" to spouses or friends.Yet the detritus of this behavior is that actually much kindness is done even if it isn't selfless or altogether heartfelt.
Many years ago when reading Goethe's, Faust, I was struck by the incredibly brilliant scene in the study, where Faust re -translates the opening of the New Testament, the Book of John. "In the beginning there was the Word." He finds the Word imprecise and changes it to first to Mind, then Spirit, and finally settles on Act. The emphasis is placed on what is done and neither the feeling nor the idea of Why is central to creation. In that regard, I am not feeling moved nor have any lofty ideals today about a world community. I just plan to help out. I changed my children's diapers and wiped them up. I can't say I loved it. Only, I was always there for them and they sensed my relentless presence.