Treat everybody like it’s their birthday. -Kid President
The practice of celebrating humanity is first personal. It begins with acknowledgment. It begins with not looking away.
A couple to three times in my life I have been in a new group of people and the person that brought me introduced almost everyone else but me. I certainly didn’t feel celebrated. Had they forgotten my name, it would have been better if they would have said, “And let me introduce you to this fellow who will have to tell you his name.” The simple acknowledgment is the first step. How can you ever celebrate someone’s humanity if you have never seen them or heard them? You cannot. The practice of celebrating humanity is personal.
Finding ways to celebrate humanity — best you can — is restorative.
We easily celebrate the humanity of the special guest, the monied, and the celebrity. Restorative celebration is finding something to celebrate in the person perceived to be the least of these. It often requires being brave. Acknowledging people that up until now I have not seen, heard, or acknowledged requires being brave. If they are people who I find disrespectful or disgusting, acknowledging them requires being brave.
And this personal practice of celebrating, like all celebrations, grows publicly. Celebrated communities are made up of celebrated people.
For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in [a]Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead … 1 Cor 1:8-9 NASB
No good deed goes unpunished.
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, [b]while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith. Gal 6: 7-10 NASB
I am second
… for the one that is least among all of you, this is the one who is great. Luke 9:48 NASB
Hate is learned, it has to be taught
But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man… Mathew 15: 18-20 NASB
The day is coming for good men to do bad things.
You will [a]know them by their fruits. [b]Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? Mat. 7:16 NASB
There are those who say fate is something beyond our command. That destiny is not our own, but I know better. Our fate lives within us, you only have to be brave enough to see it.” -Merida (Disney)
A person’s own folly leads to their ruin, yet their heart rages against the Lord. Proverbs 19:3 NIV
If you are on death row in an Alabama prison, you are scheduled to get an hour a day of yard time. That is, time outside. You are scheduled to get an hour of yard time, but you don’t always get it. You get it unless it storms. You get it unless the prison is short-handed on corrections officers. You get it unless….
I learned about yard time from visiting prisoners. I didn’t understand it until Anthony Ray Hinton explained it.1 He described two types of liberty in prison. One was the trips he would take in his imagination. The other was yard time.
Hinton’s imagination reminded me of William Stringfellow’s statement that true freedom was Daniel Berrigan in prison. I can imagine Berrigan in the cell, eyes closed, boisterous smile. His body is there, but he is not. The truly imprisoned were the correctional officers, the warden – worried, fretting that Berrigan, like Paul, might disappear on their watch. But that is writing for another day.
Then there is yard time. Strange how fences and armed guards border Hinton’s liberty but it was liberty just the same. Not bounded by steel and concrete. A little room to walk. Fresh air to clear his lungs of prison stench. The sun. And the vastness of the sky.
After meeting Hinton, I started thinking about the fact that I could walk outside any time. But I didn’t. In fact, there were many days that I didn’t go outside at all. I had the liberty, but I was choosing to waive it -to give it away. When it comes to the actual experience of liberty, what is the difference between someone who gives it away and someone who it is taken from, even wrongfully taken from, like Hinton?
Now, most every day, I take an hour for yard time. I might be turning the soil, or trimming shrubs, or working on some experiment or project. But while I am out there, I try to experience liberty and how fundamentally American it is just to be outside because I choose to be.2
Recently, I changed my primary care physician because my doctor announced his retirement. When I went for my first appointment, a smiley young man in the front office handed me a clipboard full of documents and asked me to fill them out and sign.
The fact that they were not readily available makes me think that a lot of people aren’t asking for them. That most people sign off stating they have read the policies when they have never had a copy of them to read.
When I went to the dentist, she had a fully electronic system (no clipboard). Her smiley person at the front desk asked me to sign on a fancy electronic box to affirm that I had read her policies and agreed to them. Problem was, I hadn’t. When I did ask for them they were promptly printed and handed to me. When I sat down to read them the smiley person at the front desk said, “you’re gonna read those?” somewhat incredulously.
Then when I went to get a vaccine, same experience – except this time I was signing off on manufacturer disclosures and known side effects.
Hey doctors! Stop asking me to lie.
At best, it is an unethical practice to ask patients to affirm that they have read something that you have not given them to read. I suspect that in cases of financial disputes, you are also asking your staff to lie. When a patient says they never saw your financial policy in response to not paying your bill, isn’t your smiley person at the front desk going to say, “Well I gave it to them and they signed off on it.” Beyond an unethical practice, this seems like it might be crossing over into an illegal practice as well. Fraudulent inducement perhaps?
Wouldn’t the best practice simply be to give every patient a copy of every policy that applies to them BEFORE you ask them to sign off on it? For most people, you could email it before their office visit so that they can read it early and not have to suffer the incredulity of your smiley office staff when they read it in the office.
Wouldn’t the best practice be to stop asking your patients to lie?