The Forgotten Question
I have been hanging out with a friend of mine who connected me with another fantastic song. It is worth listening to in its own right before viewing the video.
Albertine, by Brooke Fraser, spotlights a very important truth to our shared existence as person: “Now that I have seen, I am responsible.” In particular she leverages this claim against the backdrop of human suffering in Rwanda, which is made manifest by the video.
I would like to propose a different way of thinking about our responsibilities… namely to describe them as response-abilities. How does what we see affect our response? How do we honor our own humanity when encountering the humanity of another? These questions should drive our interactions with other people, but we shortchange ourselves in so many ways.
We shortchange ourselves by expecting others to serve us. We shortchange ourselves by over-estimating our capabilities. We shortchange ourselves in thinking that we can respond all on our own. We shortchange ourselves by resorting to tactics of manipulation. We shortchange ourselves by forgetting to ask the question. We shortchange ourselves by excusing our need to respond, suggesting instead that the response belongs to someone else… namely anyone but ourselves.
But most importantly, we shortchange ourselves by forgetting that we have eyes to see, ears to hear, and hands to touch.
Because if we take the time to see, to really see who is in front of us, we find that we are response-able. What would the world look like if we attempted to practice our humanity by seeing the humanity of others?