Many of us have heard people say that it is better to give a hand up than a hand out. Unfortunately these ideas are misinterpretations about what to do in supporting others in need. The hand out is referred to as a free donation to someone who doesn’t work to earn what is received. The other direction of this statement also caries with it the idea that the person giving the hand up is above the person in need and that, at it’s core, we can fix others and their situations. Unfortunately it has been said so much that many believe one or both of these to be the “right” way to provide aid.
In Unity we believe that we are all one. We all show up for each other seeing everyone as whole, perfect and divine. Far from just claiming that Unity provides a positive path for spiritual living we must show this through our connections with others in a community of compassion. It is by creating a safe and friendly atmosphere that we find ourselves truly listening without an agenda, no fixing.
Sometimes, even in our best intentions, we find ourselves in an experience or place where someone, or something, appears to be in need. We feel the tug to jump in and fix it, reaching down and giving a hand up or with a hand extended. And yet our wisdom tells us, “slow down.” It reminds us, “We are all one, on the same level, no one is above or below.” In this awareness we find the calm center of the storm and the energy shifts.
Now, with empathy, we listen deeply to what is needed. Not with pre-conceptions and plans, but with open hearts willing to be totally there, with them in the moment, willing to listen.
I claim no perfection in this and know that I am human. My vulnerability and truth comes out when I am willing to stand side by side with another. Willing to accept that I will learn much more than I can teach, that I will receive much more than I can give.
Compassionate social action is being vulnerable, authentic, whole hearted with another and offering the hand in connection—knowing we are one.
Blessing, Martin Dowman