The Power of Being Seen
Throughout my life I’ve always know what it feels like to be loved and wanted. I come from a strong, supportive family and a large community and network of friends and extended family members who provide the care and reassurance needed to make it through life’s troubling times. Even with so many resources at my disposal, human tendencies plague me at times, and I start to question my value, worth and contribution to the greater good.
Over the past several days while driving home from work, there have been pro-life protestors outside the local Planned Parenthood establishment. Their gathering always causes me to pause and give thought not only to their motivation but the impact and the stories of the ladies who are entering the establishment looking for support, care or services. I wonder if the protestors actually see the actual individuals they assume are seeking abortion related support or is their belief or cause so endearing that they fail to see the souls of the individuals they’re protesting against.
My thoughts are less around the pro-life and pro-choice debate but at what point in humanity did we stop seeing one another?
Sawubona. It’s an African Zulu term that means “we see you.” It is a greeting used when two individuals come within the presence of one another. The Zulus have been taught that there’s an obligation at the point of exchange between two individuals, to investigate why are we here at this time together? They believe that they carry their ancestors along with them throughout life and therefore it’s not only I who sees you, but we all see you. Think about the power wrapped in that statement.
Next to physical survival, the greatest need of a human being is psychological survival. To be understood, to be affirmed, to be validated, to be appreciated, to be seen.
Through our journeys and hardships, we’ve lost the understanding of the importance of sight. For far too long, we’ve focused on our own existence and our own sense of freedom and often times it becomes a zero-sum game. Meaning, in order for me to be free, happy, or successful, it requires someone else to suffer or not to prosper in a manner that exceeds my expectations. Freedom can’t be pursued out of self-interest. It must be a mutual gift with the understanding that if I limit someone else’s freedom, I limit my own.
Several controversial studies published in early 2000’s debate the impact of legalized abortion on crime rates in the 1990s. While the studies challenge the methodologies used, they each cite that the legalization of abortions may have accounted for as much as one half of the overall crime reduction. Again, my point isn’t to promote a position or debate pro-life or pro-choice, but it’s an opportunity to examine the impact of having “unwanted” children and what the consequences are for the person and society. I’m curious if the protestors knew and understood these facts if it would change their positions.
There are so many questions to ponder but my biggest question is how effective am I being in seeing others that enter into my circle. Am I offering Sawubona, so they’ll know I not only see them physically, but my ancestors and I see their souls as well? The African phrase of “umuntu ngumuntu nagabantu” says that “A person is a person because of other people.”
Never doubt the power you have in making someone feel special, valued or simply seen. In spite of our beliefs and differences, we are because of one another.