The power of kindness: Four types of people
Smatterings of light and shadows at Angeles National Forest, (taken by Enrique Delacruz on Feb. 7, 2019.)
Dr. Jeremy Velasco extracting teeth in Iloilo on Jan. 21, 2018. He shuts down his private practice for a week and spends for his travel expenses and two staffers to do this medical mission for five days. He also collects stuffed toys all year for these hundreds of children he gives dental services to. (Photo by Prosy Abarquez-Delacruz)
“Think of a person who faces the world without knowing his capabilities and limitations – someone with misguided notions about himself, who dreams of being powerful, rich, and admired for a host of talents he does not have. Such a person is incapable of self-judgment.
Equipped with mistaken ideas, he enters the great arena of the world ready to compete and excel. You can only shudder at the thought of his fate. He is like a child who thinks he can walk miles, but who tires after only two hundred feet. To know your own weaknesses and to accept them, even if it is painful. To be honest. To chase illusions away and realize how much you do not know. To treasure life’s lessons. That is humility. And humility is a great strength.” – Piero Ferrucci, “The Power of Kindness,” 2006.
I have sat down to interview thousands of folks: first, as an eligibility worker interviewing welfare recipients, mostly single mothers with children for two years; second, as a public health professional at a state agency for 27 years; and third, as an appointed LA City Commissioner for Civil Service for two years.
This role entailed listening to grievances and employer anomalies with employees testifying to abuse of power through its public agenda process of five minutes per commission’s meeting. Few employees succeeded to present their issue and only if they persisted for months.
My fourth, as a contributing writer for the Asian Journal for 11 years. I have interviewed individuals at work, in factories, restaurants, churches and sometimes, their homes.
It has been 42 years of listening to people sharing their stories and listening for life’s lessons.
I have interviewed welfare moms, multimillionaires, CEOs, professionals, artists, photographers, jewelers, musicians, writers, professors, students, activists, entrepreneurs, workers, chefs, realtors, authors, writers, playwrights, actors, actresses, directors, mayor, composers, assemblymembers, members of Congress, composers, attorneys, lyricists, conductors, beauty queens, 50 priests, two monsignors and a bishop.
There are more who I need to connect to – computer technicians, gardeners, parking attendants, cleaning ladies, busboys, waiters, electricians, plumbers, bus drivers, garbage men, repairmen, and homeless families from whom I can learn from.
Four types of people
I recently shared with a good friend, that reflecting on the thousands whom I have interviewed, I believe there are three kinds of people.
First, the radical givers who share themselves; second, the content receptors of grace or open vessels; and third, a hybrid of both open receivers and sensitive givers of grace.
I added a fourth category: those who are mean, unkind, cruel, and feeling victimized and harassed, much like the 45th U.S. president in the Oval Office, who extracts patience and tolerance from others, with the unusual grace of understanding and justice for their wrongdoings.
I added this fourth category as it is quite obvious, in public view for all to see how the current president creates division, while he considers diverse folks as his enemies: Muslims, women, Mexicans, immigrants, gays disabled, journalists, the intelligence community, refugees, even his personal attorney and Special Counsel, while he has admiration for authoritarian leaders from Russia and North Korea. He could not even let go of the rebuke he got from the late Sen. John McCain, who voted no to the repeal of Obamacare.
I was in Europe in 2003. It had been two years after the suicide bombers from the Middle East attacked the Twin Towers and thereafter the U.S. and its coalition partners went to war against Iraq. Travel felt ominous then and even more so as American citizens as we were met with hostility and suspicion. To folks whom I met and struck conversations, they openly complained of the actions of U.S. President George W. Bush.
They recalled what they had to endure during World War II and were afraid of another World War III. They pointed to a nearby building, whose inaccessible basement and tunnels remain and reminiscent of how folks hid there during the war. They prayed for peace and they had all their prayers written down and kept in a wooden box. Quietly, a prayer movement reached 20,000+ for peace and no world war. They kept the box as a symbol of their unity, hoping someday, they would be alive to read them aloud and thank God for protecting Europe during the invasion of Iraq.
Fast forward to Donald Trump who recently pulled out of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces agreement, signed by Pres. Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev on Dec. 8, 1987.
“The treaty was approved by the U.S. Senate and ratified by both Gorbachev and Reagan on June 1, 1988. With this treaty, 2,692 missiles were eliminated, in May 1991, followed by 10 years of on-site verification inspections.” (Source:Wikipedia and Euro News).
The “U.S. formally suspended the treaty on Feb. 1, 2019, and Russia followed the following day. Putin wants to have ‘supersonic’ missile after the treaty suspension and declared that “Russia must develop new nuclear warhead-carrying missiles by 2021,” according to CNBC and CNN.
Is the 45th U.S. president taking us back to the Dark Ages?
“The term Dark Ages was coined by an Italian scholar, Francesco Petrarch, who lived from 1304 to 1374,” according to Nate Sullivan, a history professor and writer.
Petrarch lamented the scarcity of quality in Latin literature and dark ages became a term for lack of culture and advancement in Europe. Black Death bubonic plague killed an estimated 100 to 200 million, devastating Europe from the late 1340s to early 1350s, Sullivan continued. Are we now having our Dark Ages in America?
Do we have a choice between this culture of death and a culture of life? Do we sense the opioid epidemic of deaths in the thousands, the suicides of teenagers, shootings of black teenagers by police officers, and 30,000 deaths of Americans from random gun violence?
Yet, the president insists on cultivating fear coming from caravans of migrants, refugees, immigrant crimes and women choosing to abort their fetuses. His fearmongering has backfired and resulted in bringing in more diverse congressmembers to the 116th Congress: hundreds of women representatives, the first two Muslim-Americans, the first two Native Americans, the first Filipino American from the Central Valley TJ Cox, and the youngest 29-year-old Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Smatterings of light
I wondered if we became radical givers and contribute to a movement of being Saints, could that change America from being in the Dark Ages of massive deaths, lies, lack of culture and advancement? Would that be enough to stop the violence from hatred? I pray and I hope so.
Allow me to switch back to describing the first three categories. It is really my intent to choose smatterings of light towards a lighted path and to leave behind the dark shadows of hatred and bigotry.
The first type is radical givers, who give without expectations of anything in return.
I know of Korkie, a high school classmate, who is a radical giver. She organizes her friends, to the point of arranging carpools for those who don’t drive so all can meet for bible studies or reunions. Our classmates are from diverse income categories, and some are without cars. But, that does not deter them from sharing rides and to be together. She also arranges visits to the nuns who are now in their retirement home, about three hours away from her residence, while staying up at times till dawn to connect to U.S. and Canadian classmates and share what these nuns need for daily living.
She even supervised the carpenters and laborers, whom our 1967 batch contracted, to renew the kneelers in the school’s chapel and buy snacks for these laborers using her own resources. I consider her as part of the first category. At one time, she coordinated the receipt of books donated to the school’s library from U.S.-based classmates, through the efforts of Ambassador Mary Jo Aragon, then, Philippine Consul General in Los Angeles.
Another classmate, Beatriz, uses her financial resources to build chapels and to provide scholarships to boys for their complete education. She and her husband pay to the colleges directly and their treasures come in the form of scholars who finish their degrees. They monitor them to make sure these college graduates finance their siblings so they catalyze lifting one family at a time, out of poverty.
Can you imagine her ‘without fanfare’ giving and philanthropy without calling to what she does publicly? She also does not subscribe to the glitter and bling culture of the rich, even though she is well-endowed. What is her pay-off? A much closer relationship to God.
When she visits me in LA, I invariably witness spiritual gifts of grace. To those who may not believe in invisible miracles, it might be difficult to comprehend, but to those with faith, they appreciate the shared stories.
I also became a volunteer in 2018 to the Philippine Medical Society of Northern California, an organization which has been fielding volunteer medical professionals for 30+ years now. Doctors, dentists, nurses give up a week’s worth of income to go to a province in the Philippines, spending their own dime, to provide comprehensive medical, surgical, optical and dental services to thousands. It was so moving to witness 150 folks help thousands they do not even know nor have met in a matter of five days. Volunteers include retired professionals who simply want to help folks to have a better quality of living and not to keep suffering from their aches and pains due to the lack of money to pay for health care.
Doctors end up operating to remove goiter, hernia, reverse club foot, cleft palate, tumors, and dentists removing decaying teeth by the hundreds. The look of sweat and fatigue are matched by big smiles and content residents who get much-needed care.
Second, folks who are content receptors of grace or open channels of grace.
They discern well and speak with so much wisdom, like Pope Francis and certain holy priests. Sure, there are issues within the Catholic Church that have yet to be fully addressed like sexual abuse of parishioners and now, nuns.
I once told a Catholic priest/mentor that the brotherhood of priests includes holy priests only, and when the priest preys on his flock, he now belongs to the category of criminals, and no longer deserve to be treated as priest nor bishop nor cardinal.
Pope Francis recently made a historic trip to the Middle East, where he held a historic mass joined by thousands in an Islamic state and signed an agreement for peace.
“The document, signed by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayeb, was prepared “with much reflection and prayer”, the Pope said. The one great danger at this moment, he continued, is “destruction, war, hatred between us.”
“If we believers are not able to shake hands, embrace one another, kiss one another, and even pray, our faith will be defeated,” he said.
The Pope explained that the document “is born of faith in God who is the Father of all and the Father of peace; it condemns all destruction, all terrorism, from the first terrorism in history, that of Cain.” The Holy Father said that from the Catholic point of view, the Document on Human Fraternity “does not go one millimetre beyond the Second Vatican Council… the document was made in the spirit of Vatican II.”
Among Muslims, he said, there are various opinions, but them, too, it is a process.” Vatican News reported.
I consider Pope Francis a holy vessel where each move that he makes seems inspired by the joy of the Holy Spirit and as he intended.
As Rev. Jude Winkler reminds us, “The Spirit of God is not like a dull knife that refuses to cut. The Spirit is like a sharp blade that can cut right to the heart of the matter. The Spirit can help us to explore what is hidden and confused and to sort out our motivations so that we may be and do what is Spirit-filled.” Third, a hybrid of sensitive givers of grace and receivers of that divine blessing.
I have a friend who is a wonderful giver of services in wellness. Antonio hands use acupuncture needles, cupping and massage, which result in pain intervention. You sense his healing energies pass through as his clients receive them. He meditates to a Higher Source just before seeing each one.
As one of those receiving his healing energies, we also have in-depth dialogues about life, faiths, travels and family love.
From him, we get on track to a better quality of living, not a cure, but issues of sprained muscles, and aching back or painful joints are interrupted and resolved.
The fourth, a dangerous one, as the Lies of Two Minds come from them.
They believe they are the greatest gifts to mankind and they claim to have faith in God and even religious. But they inflict the highest levels of cruelty to thousands of human beings.
Recall the current president’s ban on Muslims? Recall how he separated toddlers and children from their families to the thousands?
Recall how he engineered the shutdown, insisting on the building of the southern border wall, causing 800,000 federal workers to have no salaries to pay their bills for 35 days?
Recall how faith-believing slave owners prevented slaves from having their freedoms until the U.S. Civil War?
Recall the evils of Adolf Hitler gassing up six million Jews, and how he believed he was the savior of the German race tasked to purify the nation? He was a solid believer in the Catholic faith but he got disillusioned.
Might the pedophiles now in the Catholic Church, who act like priests, be criminals who live with the ‘lies of two minds?’
Might these be the corrupt politicians who pretend to be public servants, but receive emoluments or money benefits to their private checkbooks and waste time in public office without doing any work for the public good?
Are their hearts stone-cold, much like ice crystals on the ground?
What good is this knowledge of knowing these four types?
To me, the first three are sources of inspiration and the fourth, a source of lessons and what not to follow.
We are reflections of the Divine Creator. When we remember that, we self-identify with these first three categories and we practice the power of kindness and adhere to the light.
When we are unaware of ‘the light,’ we are misaligned with our shadows and darkness conquering our divine spirits, creating the ‘lies of two minds,’ with no awareness of sense of weaknesses or impact of our wrongdoings.
When we become conscious of this light at all times, the power of kindness become us.
It is what Enzo Capua described as: “These cultural shifts become unstoppable thanks to their communicative force, and are therefore physical transformations in the broadest sense, moving from one place to another…but today it is generally accepted, even held up as an example of the brotherhood between different countries, where borders are nothing more than lines drawn on a map. They don’t exist in nature. Often they’re the outcome of wars and deals struck under (clearly non-peaceful) pressure.”
We all have choices of being in the dark or the smatterings of lights and risk being kind and generous, to change the proliferation of negative energies.
We just might reverse the proliferation of threats of nuclear wars, but also fill up this world with new energies from those of us who are and who become radical givers, receptors of grace and even hybrids of both.
In connecting with a human being, we validate who we are, another humane person!
Much like what my 4-year-old granddaughter Princess says to me, she looks at the rock where it is written, “BELIEVE,” then reads each letter and altogether she says: “Believe LOVE!”
Happy Hearts Day to all!
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Prosy Abarquez-Delacruz, J.D. writes a weekly column for Asian Journal, called “Rhizomes.” She has been writing for AJ Press for 10 years. She also contributes to Balikbayan Magazine. Her training and experiences are in science, food technology, law and community volunteerism for 4 decades. She holds a B.S. degree from the University of the Philippines, a law degree from Whittier College School of Law in California and a certificate on 21st Century Leadership from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. She has been a participant in NVM Writing Workshops taught by Prof. Peter Bacho for 4 years and Prof. Russell Leong. She has travelled to France, Holland, Belgium, Japan, Costa Rica, Mexico and over 22 national parks in the US, in her pursuit of love for nature and the arts.