Let me first say, thank you, to the record-breaking number of relatives who posted in on the Healing Café encouraging me to keep on writing my weekly Schlagbytes, as long as I wanted to. At the conscious level, I didn’t realize that I was so shamelessly pandering for votes. Before I had a chance to bask in self-congratulatory bliss, my wife said, “25 respondees out of the thousands of people who receive Schlagbytes (and who knows, the untold millions to whom they are forwarded), hardly represents a landslide”.
Less may be more (as she says), but there is so much happening out there that invites response, it’s irresistible not to comment. I know I have a limited amount to say (most of which I have probably already said), but every now and then there is a new thought, experience or insight, that might shed a new reflection on even an old theme. You have to be able to wade through the uninspired before you find one worth reading, so be it.
And then there are the stories I come across that inspire me; stories that give me hope in our suffering world, I love to share those. This story was reported (NYT, 1/7/07) about Mr. Wesley Autrey, a 50-year-old construction worker and Navy veteran. Mr. Autrey leapt in front of a Subway train to rescue a stranger who had suffered a seizure and fallen onto the tracks. He left his two young daughters standing on the platform to cover the strangers’ body with his own, as the train passed overhead. Both men lived.
Later, Mr. Autrey was asked why he did it; he chalked it up to a simple compulsion to help someone in distress. What a wonderful reminder that social support is important to survival. This is an old story; we are hard-wired to be connected to others. Belly-buttons are the reminders of that biological truth, so look at yours every day and say thank-you. From mothers, to families, tribes and nations, we are all tribal people. People with strong social networks thrive in comparison to those who do not.
Mr. Autry is a hero to me; he did it because he was compelled to because of what he learned to value. Heroism isn’t an act of conscious analysis, it is instinctive, and people like Mr. Autrey are cut from a different cloth. How many of us would leave our 4 and 6 year old daughters, and put ourselves in harm’s way to rescue a stranger. I’d like to think I’d do it, but I am afraid that in that split-second, self-preservation and my girls, might have made me a bystander.
The fact that Mr. Autrey is black, and the man whose life he saved was white, never entered the picture. Mr. Autrey is the man I want to be. I see in him the spark of the Divine that resides in each of us. In him, I see the light of goodness, a beacon to us all that we can reach out and save each other.
I love this old story; we are all related; be with all things as with relatives and we will save each other. I say this, For All My Relations, Mi Takuye Oyacin.