Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Gingerbread Men

In the 14th Psalm, the singer rebukes those who "eat up the people as they eat bread." Eating the people implies a relational distance between self and other, an objectification. Rather than recognizing people as fellow travellers up the hill of life, we treat others as things outside of ourselves to be looked upon unsympathetically and used to further personal gain. When we view others in relation to what they can do for us, rather than how we can relate to them on a basic level, we are eating them up like bread. Usually, we are not consciously doing (or even wishing) them harm, we simply do not engage in recognition. We are commanded to love our neighbor--not to just ingest him and be done. We are to relate to others, and recognize in them the divinity that we must also recognize in ourselves.
The Proverbs contain further insight, denouncing those "whose teeth are as swords, and their jaw teeth as knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, and the needy from among men." The speaker continues with the famous horseleach's daughters (whose "quantum of wantum cannot vary," as Beckett's Wylie proved) eternally crying "Give, give," followed by a chilling list of "three things that are never satisfied, yea, four things say not, It is enough: The grave; and the barren womb; the earth that is not filled with water; and the fire that saith not, It is enough." There is an abyss in each of us which rages and will never be filled; Blake called the human heart a "hungry gorge." Giving in to the demands of this endless hunger will get us nowhere, as it's appetite is infinite and undiscerning. We must create, renew, and relate, rather than merely consuming all around us. The world is where we make ourselves and bind up that which is broken by loving and creating. When we mindlessly devour those around us, our world ceases to be holy--it becomes a buffet.

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