Precious Persons

© 2012 by Ed Chasteen

Every person on the planet is precious and longs for peace, power, purpose and joy. I desperately hope this is true. But I know of no way to prove that it is. So as I see it, I have only two choices. I can act as if it is true. Or I can act as if it is not. Years ago I decided to act as if it is true. From my long ago days in grad school, I remember the Thomas Theorem: “A thing defined as real, is real in its consequences.” From church when I was even younger I learned that God loves me and God made all people in God’s image. I choose to act in this world as if every person I meet has a spark of goodness and genius inside. My action toward that person will either coax that spark to life or crush it to death. My own spark will be similarly affected by the exchange I initiate with that other person.

So in a very real sense it does not matter whether every person actually is precious and longing for peace, power, purpose and joy. By treating them as if they are, I increase the odds that they will act as if they are. And by my actions, I daily show to everyone I meet that I am. Together we catch everyone up in an ascending spiral of goodness and genius, and we make ourselves into what we thought we already were.

Don Quixote in Man of LaMancha meets a woman, the most beautiful creature he has ever seen. He falls to his knees. “My lady, what is your name?” He asks. “Off your knees, you fool. My name is Aldonza, and I’m no lady.” Indeed she’s not. She waits on the mule drivers who stop at the inn. By day and by night. “No, my lady, your name is not Aldonza. Your name is Dulcinea.” She curses him and he leaves. Several times in the story he returns, each time calling her Dulcinea and treating her as a lady. The only one who does. She responds angrily each time. Near the end of the story, she hears that Don Quixote is dying, delirious and distant from her. She makes her way to him and forces her way inside. “My lord,” she says. “Who is it?” He asks. “Why you know my name. You called me by name and changed my life.” “No, my lady. Who is it?” And she says, “It’s Dulcinea.” She now sees herself the way he has seen her all along.

I know there are Aldonzas in the world. But I will treat everyone I meet as Dulcinea until they either become who I already know them to be or they do me in. I cannot accept any other outcome.

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