Welcome our own weakness? Really?

2931888261_c7d2bb40f2_mThis caught my attention in a recent episode of On Being. It speaks to the importance of us (helpers) needing to be able to face our own pain if we are are to help others face theirs.

MS. TIPPETT: Not just in the context of disabilities, you know, you’ve posed this question, you know, the whole — you’ve said the whole question is, how do we stand before pain?


MS. TIPPETT: All kinds of pain and weakness are difficult for us as human beings. Why is that so excruciating? Why do we such a bad job with it?

MR. VANIER: I think there are so many elements. First of all, we don’t know what to do with our own pain, so what to do with the pain of others? We don’t know what to do with our own weakness except hide it or pretend it doesn’t exist. So how can we welcome fully the weakness of another if we haven’t welcomed our own weakness? There are very strong words of Martin Luther King. His question was always, how is it that one group — the white group — can despise another group, which is the black group? And will it always be like this? Will we always be having an elite condemning or pushing down others that they consider not worthy? And he says something, which is quite, what I find extremely beautiful and strong, is that we will continue to despise people until we have recognized, loved, and accepted what is despicable in ourselves. So that, then we go down, what is it that is despicable in ourselves? And there are some elements despicable in ourselves, which we don’t want to look at, but which are part of our natures, that we are mortal.