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Do I Feel A Vocation To Be Fully Human

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DANC Conversation Starters
Do I Feel A Vocation
To Be Fully Human

From time to time D.A.N.C. (Dinner And Nifty Conversation) comes forward with interesting quotes and references. This was a starter piece for a conversation about humanity


Margaret WheatleyTurning To One Another: Simple Conversations To Restore Hope To The Future.
Pp 58-59

Do I feel a vocation to be fully human?

Paulo Freire was a Brazilian and world educator who believed in people. Many times he stated that we have “a vocation to be fully human.” He demonstrated that when poor and illiterate people learned to think, they could understand what was causing their poverty. Once they understood this, they then acted powerfully to change their worlds. His approach to education has been called a “pedagogy of love.” But what does it mean that we have a vocation to be fully human?

The notion of vocation comes from spiritual and philosophical traditions. It describes a
”call,” work that is given to us, that we are meant to do. We don’t decide what our vocation is, we receive it. It always originates from outside us. Therefore, we can’t talk about vocation or a calling without acknowledging that there is something going on beyond our narrow sense of self. It helps remind us that there’s more than just me, that we’re part of a larger and purpose-filled place.

Even if we don’t use the word vocation, most of us want to experience a sense of purpose to our lives. From a young age, and especially as we mature, people often express the feeling of life working through them, of believing there’s a reason for their existence. I always love to hear a young person say that they know there’s a reason why they’re here. I know that if they can hold onto that sense of purpose, they’ll be able to deal with whatever life experiences await them. If we don’t feel there’s a meaning to our lives, life’s difficulties can easily overwhelm and discourage us.

This sense of a purpose beyond ourselves is a universal human experience, no matter our life circumstance. We don’t have to be comfortable, well-fed, or safe I order to feel purpose in our lives. Often those in the most terrible circumstances of imprisonment or poverty are the best teachers. How they endure tragedy and suffering gives us the clearest insight into what it means to be have a vocation to be fully human.

I was told the story of a pregnant Rwandan mother of six whose village was destroyed by massacre. She was shot first, buried under the bodies of each of her six slain children, and left for dead. She dug herself out, buried her children, bore her new child, and soon thereafter, chose to adopt five children whose parents had been killed in the same massacre. She expressed her belief that her life had been spared so that she might care for these orphaned children after losing her own.

This young African mother teaches me what it means to have a vocation to be fully human. I believe we become more fully human with any gesture of generosity, any time we reach out to another rather than withdraw into our individual suffering. To become fully human we need to keep opening our hearts, no matter what. At this time when suffering and anxiety continue to increase, when there is always reason to weep for some unbearable tragedy inflicted by one human on another, I try to remember to keep my heart open.

In my own experience, I notice that I like myself better when I am generous and open-hearted. I don’t like who I become when I’m afraid of others, or angry at them. There are many people whose actions anger me and make me afraid – But I don’t like how I feel when I respond to them from fear. At those times., I don’t feel more human but less. I become more fully human only when I extend myself. This is how I define for myself what it means to have a vocation to be fully human.



Pema Chodron (ibid p57)

We don't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts.


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