Global Priors Council July 28, 1977
I'm Kay Lush and I'm from Kelapa Dua Human Development Project,
about one and a half hours outside of Jakarta in Indonesia. When
I was asked to give this talk, I was very offended. My response
to the call was that I don't have anything profound to say. The
committee's response to my response was "Oh yes you do."
And so, finally, the only thing that's given me the courage to
come up here today is that I used the methodology of getting clear
on what you know and what you don't know. The one thing I'm sure
about is that I am a human being. Now profundity or profoundness
I'm not sure about, so I just decided that I'd bracket it and
worry about it after this talk. I have discovered after listening
to the talks this week and working through this, that profound
humanness is not new. We know all about it, but we are looking
for different ways to express it and clarify it. It is a many-faceted
diamond. There are twelve different ways we've decided to talk
about profound humanness. And the twelve overlap. You cannot have
care without action. You cannot have action without consciousness.
Today I'm going to talk about profound humanness as care.
First of all, profound humanness as care is overwhelming reality.
Man is care, period. Man is care and he participates in the care
that flows from Being itself. I'll repeat that because I think
it's important. I am care. You are care. You don't have it. You
don't earn it but you are it. And you and I participate in the
care that flows out of Being itself. Another way to say that is
that man is his relationships. That's nothing new. Our relationships
define who we are. You and I are loaded with anxieties and concerns
and all kinds of cares. Say to yourself, "Try not to care."
It's impossible. Remember in teaching Bultman, you'd ask somebody
if it was possible not to care, and somebody in the seminar would
say, "Oh, yes, there are times when I don't care.""
And then another person in the seminar would say, "You are
a liar." Because not to care is not to be alive. It's just
pulling the curtains down and being dead.
I bet you think you know who I am. You think I am Kay Lush,
and I'm five feet two and a half inches tall and I'm not going
to tell you how much I weigh. I'm forty years old and I have brown
hair with a little gray that I dye. That is not who I am. I am
Kay Lush who is related to my mother; in fact, I'm her daughter.
I have sisters. I'm related to the government in Indonesia. I
have a semi-permanent visa there. I'm related to the rice farmer
without whose rice I would not be here today, for I've eaten a
lot of rice. Finally, I'm related to the Mystery of life. Man
is related to the final reality which is the Mystery of life.
And that Mystery sustains you and me. Mystery sustains me. Care
sustains me. If it weren't for the care of those people in the
kitchen right now, you and I wouldn't be here.
All the actions of history arise out of care or the misuse of it. The fact is that I'm being cared for by a cab driver who drove me here or I'm being cared for because my mother's birthing got me here. My husband being my husband has sustained me also. Our relationships sustain us, literally. Without them we'd be nothing, a nought. We wouldn't even be an it, we'd be a "nought". Did you ever think that when you declare war on another country it's
because you care? When you fight with somebody, it's because
you care. When you see somebody walking down the street and you
walk on the other side to avoid them, you care. You don't want
to talk to them. When you turn off the TV because you can't stand
the news, you care. Care happens to you and you respond. You participate
in care because you participate in all of life. Not to participate
in care is to be really dead. Care touches you and you're profoundly
human. It is not an emotion; it is not a feeling. Care is an isness,
a happening that happens to you.
I become aware of my relationships. I become aware of being
sustained by them and I become aware of the fact that if it hadn't
been for my father, I wouldn't have enough courage to do anything.
If it hadn't been for that pilot on the 747, I literally wouldn't
be here. I have really grown to an appreciation of Thomas Jefferson.
I'm so glad I'm an American these days. Now don't get me wrong.
1'm a global citizen and I'm a human being, but I'm also an American.
It dawned on me how grateful I am for the Declaration of Independence
and the people who wrote it. The kind of sustaining force that's
been in my life is phenomenal. Because of them, I have individual
freedom and rights. I'm thankful for those relationships. They
cared for me.
Care has given me my life, which is a chance to do life as
it has never been done before. That same caring has also smashed
me to pieces and driven me to my knees screaming, but that, too,
has sustained me. Without that, I wouldn't be here, and I'm thankful
for that. Somehow, you want to repay all those people and all
those actions. I wish I could shake hands with Thomas Jefferson.
The suffering of mankind has sustained me because that is
part of the totality of life. And that suffering is everywhere.
It's in Wichita, in Bombay, in Brussels and in Paducah. It is
everywhere. It's in the small towns and the large towns. You walk
through the innocent suffering and suddenly care touches you and
catches you unaware. Something happens to you and you make a decision.
I was walking through the rice paddies to my assigned stake, Stake
1. The paddies were a beautiful, deep lush green. I gained another
appreciation for my last name, which is "Lush." On this
particular day, the rice was full and there was a bright blue
sky. It was simply gorgeous.
I was walking down a path crossing Stake 3 to the irrigation
ditch. In the irrigation ditch with water about the color of our
brown tabletops, there were 3 water buffalo and two kids on them.
In the same irrigation ditch were two ladies. One was washing
her hair and the other was washing the plates from her lunch.
Something happened to me. I just stopped. Care happened. I was
angry. I stopped and at that point, I declared war on the water
When care focuses in and grabs you like that, something happens and your life is different. You decide self-consciously wherever you go, wherever you are that you are going to build structures to release humanness in others. I had decided, by golly, that over my dead body, we were going to have an adequate water system here! It took just one moment and this happens to other people too. You watch this event going on. Only ten people in our village can read and write. We sent five villagers to another consult in Malaysia, which was a great happening
Pa Darma, a 45-year-old illiterate man who was a leader on
the local level, visited Sungai Lui. He saw Muslims like himself
who could read signs. I tell you, care happened to Pa Darma that
day. When he returned, he got up at the guild meeting and said,
"If those villagers in Sungai Lui can read, so can we. Now
everybody, even women too (this was new) are going to be literate."
About 100 people are in literacy classes every day because profound
humanness happened to that man. Well, you watch it and slowly,
self-consciously, you begin to develop a critical conscience wherever
you go and whomever you meet. You build structures and relationships
that release the profound care in others.
Profound humanness as care is impassioned detachment. When
life gives you profound humanness as you find in care, you become
very clear what you must do with your life. Care has been objectified
when it happens to you and you focus it. It is really a formula
because you know where the contradiction is and you head straight
toward it. You are convinced that if you don't move on this contradiction,
history will stop. That's how impassioned you are and it's the
resolve of "over my dead body." Over my dead body will
this innocent suffering go on.
So you head to Jerusalem. But before you do that, you have
a conversation with God. It goes something like this: "Now,
look. I've seen this and don't you worry. I'm on your side and
we are going to do something about this. You can count on me."
You get your sword (I'm a coward so I use my shield) and you move.
I understand now what it means to "defend the honor of God."
Jesus walked so fast because he was scared. But more than that,
I think it was a maneuver. You're scared Satan will catch you,
so you walk fast. And you pray for courage.
This is the time for petitionary prayer, and then it's intercessory
prayer. You walk fast and you don't have time to bury your father.
You want to bury your father, your insides scream, but you can't.
You're full of passion, yet you walk straight and fast to get
to the scene of the contradiction. This is where maneuvers come
in. Jesus had to go to the proper turf which was Jerusalem. You
have to know your turf and your timing and all that type of thing.
And you declare war. When I saw that lady bathing in the irrigation
ditch, I declared war on all unpure water in this limited geography.
In 85% of Indonesia, women live like animals. Given this fact,
they are unbelievably gracious. Their job is to have babies, plant
rice, harvest rice, have more babies, carry this heavy burden
on their back so that when they straighten up, they are still
stooped over. That's what it means to be a woman. Sometimes you
forget how much suffering goes on there. You hide from the suffering.
I want to introduce you to a lady named Iou Santinah. We needed
a preschool teacher (this was a gimmick to get to the women).
When we asked the men about women to teach, they laughed us right
out of the building because women as teachers is an utter impossibility.
But something happened to one woman, Iou Santinah. She decided
she could risk coming over every day to be a community preschool
teacher. Her friends told her we were going to Christianize her,
so she should be careful. But she came anyway. Furthermore, she
never missed a day. Because of her, three or four other people
have come to teach. Profound humanness in the form of care happened
to that woman. She responded by making a radical decision about
her life. She chose responsibility for those structures that released
the profound care.
Profound humanness as care is universal service. My life is
doing the necessary deed for the sake of all mankind. That is
human care. My life is radical engagement. My life is choosing
responsibility, because our lives are always about building the
earth. Once you've decided you are going to attack the major contradictions
of the day, you are about building the earth. There is nothing
else to do. You ride the tide of history. When profound humanness
happens, you only face impossible obligations. If you weren't
being chewed up and spit out, you wouldn't be at the right place
in history. That's what the apex of history means.
If you weren't dying inside, screaming, you'd be in the back
lines instead of the front lines. It's your interior history or
what's going on inside that tells you what's going on. You're
being loved. You are being loved so dearly. And God is caring
for you. All you people on Town Meeting circuits, did you ever
think during your day and night circuits to little towns and big
towns, that you were being cared for? Did you realize that you
were aiming those deeds at the contradictions of our time? Doing
those deeds radically expended your life. Being chewed up and
spit out is being loved so dearly.
A lot of people wrote letters back here. I sat down to write
a letter. In fact, I started four of them but I felt what I was
doing wasn't worthwhile. I didn't want to say this but I understand
how it fits in. What could I write? Last night we had a stake
meeting in Stake 5 and they decided to build a bridge. "Big
deal, a bridge. Who cares?" I would say to myself. But it
is a big deal. A real big deal that people decided to build a
bridge and to do it together. One of our contradictions has to
do with corporateness! At the time it was happening it seemed
so insignificant. I didn't understand the profundity of that.
Profound humanness happened to those people and what they
are doing is altering their environment. That is radical expenditure.
When care happens, three things take place, almost as a formula.
First, something happens to focus care; you turn to the contradiction
and move on it; you take care of it and move on to something else
. There is always a new horse to hop on, a new cloak to wear or
a new assignment with new turf and new weapons. The enemy is always
the same even though he wears a different face.
Profound humanness as care is finally perpetual expenditure.
My care is being released on history all the time. Our corporate
care is being released in history. That's what happens when you
walk into this room or when you look at a map of the world. The
map in our collegium room, with all the dots, says "corporate
care is being released on all history" to me. It didn't say
that to me before. I suspect I am putting on different glasses
to see the same reality, and I am talking about humanness in a
God has given me the great opportunity to participate in care
and to choose responsibility. These are great times to be alive
because they are care-filled times. You visit people and they
want to participate. If we are smart in maneuvers, with timing
and weaponry and so forth, people will choose responsibility.
And profound humanness or profound care will be released.
I believe this is true because people see the demand. The
world is on their back. The troops will come. Now is the time.
We have a ritual that goes "These are the times; we are the
people." It is a good ritual. Care allows us to love, to
love everything, even our enemies. I respect the reminder that
you are not cynical with your enemy but you respect him. If you
find you are not loving and respecting your enemy, you are going
to lose. That's not moralistic; it's just smart.
I have a story to tell you. We live 18 hours from Jakarta
and every day some of us travel there for development and self-support.
We work at a fancy school for the 15% of the world. It is a private
international school with carpeting, air-conditioning and it's
great. The children of ambassadors, corporation presidents, oil
company officials and leading businessmen are there. The parents
of these children come into your office daily.
We leave the house between 5:40 and 6:00 A.M.. every day to
catch the bus to Jakarta on a road that is filled with everything.
It reminds me of Africa. There are geese, goats, bicycles, people
and bumps on the road. In the rainy season we have difficulty
getting the cars over the road because of the mud. When it floods,
we literally walk through the water to the hard road which is
a mile away. When we got stuck, it was not unusual to push the
car. So what I would do (this is painfully funny) is wear my clothes
inside out to prevent them from getting dirty. I think that's
what it means to get into battle sometimes. Anyway, we'd push
the car, get back in, and go to school.
When I got to school, I'd do my ritual which was turning my
clothes back right, putting on my good shoes and my face. Now
I see that this was a ritual to get ready to meet the enemy because
I respect him or it. My colleagues and I were asked many times
about what we were doing. Isabelle is the principal's wife. She's
from Boston but spent a lot of time in France so you have to imagine
a Boston-French accent, whatever that is. One day, Isabelle commented
to me, "My, you certainly don't look like you just stepped
out of a village." She went on to ask, "Kay, why do
you do this? Why do you live so far out in that village? You never
come to our parties and you always go to those village meetings?"
When I began permeating, I had an abstract, elusive, evasive
answer to questions like this. These days, however, when people
ask, I just tell them the truth. I told Isabelle, "I do this
because I care. You know the future of Indonesia lies in changing
the face of the villages. And I care what happens. I care about
the suffering, Isabelle. Do you know that people don't have anything
to eat and it's not just a few people out there? Most of Indonesia
is like that." Then I said, "Isabelle, I have only one
life to live -- and I don't want to spend all of it at this school.
If I had to spend my whole time at this school, I'd die."
Well, she was shocked at that. I continued with, "What
gives me life is doing what I am doing. Isabelle, I want to bend
history. I'd like to change it! After I leave, I want it to be
different. I want the blocks to be gone. I want the people to
be human, more profoundly human. They're just as human as you
and me, Isabelle."
By this time Isabelle was really done in. But, being the sensitive
person she was, she pushed on. She said, "Well, what about
pensions and things like that? What are you going to do when you
retire? Do you know, Kay, there's a cholera epidemic out there
and you could get it or your son could get it. And you drive so
much, you are certainly going to have a wreck." Everything
she said was true. You know, the enemy always tells the truth.
And my only response was "Isabelle, I just care what happens."
The only thing I have to say today is that profound humanness
is me. If you want to see care, it's me. I'm it. Profound humanness
has happened to people in Town Meetings and Global Social Demonstrations.
These are vehicles which allow it to happen. These are the vehicles
which release the profound care that everybody has. And Isabelle
doesn't understand that, God bless her.
I know why we're not so anxious over our assignments. It's
because we know the battle is the same anywhere. There may be
differences in the turf, our timing or our weapons or the face
of the enemy, but finally we all know that the cruciform life
looks just one way.