Thursday, April 9, 2015

Hod b'Chesed

Hod b'Chesed. Humility in Loving-Kindness.

When I think about humility I think about three things. 1) Not being afraid to apologize when you did something wrong. 2) Knowing and admitting that you don't know everything and sometimes need help. 3) One of the hardest things anyone can do is accept someone else's apology and display forgiveness. Sometimes these two things are related. You might need to apologize for screwing something without asking for help first. 

Apologizing is one of the hardest things for me to do. Admitting that I am wrong can be embarrassing but I know that it helps me to grow. For me one aspect of being humble is having that maturity and sensitivity to say I am sorry, I messed up. If you think about it, that makes sense. We put so much time and energy into learning so that we can have the right answers. Why else would we fight the notion that we do not know the right answer, let alone the answer we have is wrong. Allowing ourselves to admit we don't know and taking the time to learn the answer teaches us something stronger and more powerful. Not just the idea of humility but also the ideal of patience. 

Voluntourism is something that if we aren't careful we will fall victim to. Voluntourism is a disjointed system of people dropping into a community with little to no understanding of the problems that the community faces with the intention of doing good. When this happens communities are sometimes left without sustainable support to maintain or grow these programs and improvements that were started during these volunteer experiences. This isn't to say that when we go and participate in short term volunteer programs that they are all bad. It just means that we need to do a little research into whatever organizations we intend to volunteer with and see what their goals are and the outcomes they have been able to achieve. There are many organizations out there that to great work. They work with communities to identify needs that they have and work with the community to address them. I think back to my senior year of university at UNC-CH and my alternative break trip to Nicaragua with Hillel and American Jewish World Service. We learned about the community before and during the trip. We also worked along song people from this village in the Diriamba region to build a community center. To me this experience is still one of the most transformative experiences in my Jewish life because it taught me the importance of humility, dignity, and respect. 

Forgiveness. Forgiveness is a tricky thing. It's an involuntary action that we like to think we have control over. True forgiveness is a really challenging thing for us to give to someone. We will always harbor the feelings and reactions from whatever wrong it was that happened. A small percentage of us are truly able to not feel that hurt after we have "forgiven" the person. By not forgiving other we carry this weight with us that detracts from the relationships that we try to foster with those around us. That isn't to say we can never have true, free relationships and interactions with others it just means that we need to take a pause. A pause to recognize that sometimes we might need to reflect on certain feelings or frustrations that we have that seem baseless and realize that there is a base for it. And make a conscious effort to open your heart and acknowledge that feeling, where it comes from, and to try work past it. Whether there was an apology or effort made to reconcile from that mistake, the responsibility is on you to address it still. Humility is making the effort and going the distance. As Hercules says: "But to look beyond the glory is the hardest part, For a hero's strength is measured by his heart."

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