Monday, September 15, 2008


Rose Busingye

Yesterday, for the second time, I watched Greater: Defeating Aids, a short documentary about Rose Busingye and the Meeting Point in Uganda. Rose is a nurse who seeks out and cares for women who are sick with AIDS, as well as children who are orphaned or unwanted. The movie won a viewer's choice award at the Cannes film festival.

What does it take to be able to say, Here is the evidence. Now I've found the way I want to live?

As Rose points out in the film, the secret to life doesn't lie in talking; nor does it lie in action; it lies in paying attention to a person, really paying attention to the person that life puts in front of you. Paying attention until your life vibrates in sympathy with the other person's life, so that what you want for that person is more joy than any one person can hold -- not just a cure for an illness, not just financial stability or satisfaction in work or relationships -- but the truth about that person's infinite value and above all, access to tenderness that we know that we don't make.

This desire, to pay attention in this way, can't happen automatically but only as a result of great ascesis. There is no convincing argument that will persuade you to give this sort of gift of self and no calculation that will make the sacrifice seem to pay off.

The only thing that may help is to take a very long look at Rose's face.

You will need to download Babelgum's program before the video will play. Just follow instructions after clicking this link:

Greater: Defeating Aids

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Dumbstruck by the Mystery

...our temptation is always to impose our prejudices or our measure on reality -- except when we are faced with a fact that leaves us dumbstruck, and instead of dominating the fact ourselves, we are dominated, overcome by it. If there were no moments of this kind, the Mystery could do anything, but in the end, we would reduce everything to the usual explanation. But not even a Nobel Prize winner can stop himself from being dumbstruck before an absolutely gratuitous gesture. If there were not these moments, we would find answers, explanations, and interpretations to avoid being struck by anything. It is good that some things happen that we cannot dominate, then we have to take them seriously, and this is the great question of philosophy. If the conditions for the possibility of knowledge (see Kant) impose themselves on reality or if there is something that is so powerfully disproportionate that it does not let itself be "grasped" by the conditions of possibility, then the horizon opens. If this were not the case, then we could dominate everything and be in peace, or at least without drama. Instead, not even the intelligence of a Nobel Prize winner could prevent him from coming face-to-face with a fact that made him dumbstruck -- instead of dominating, it was he who was dominated. Here begins the drama, because I am called to answer. It is the drama that unfolds between us and the Mystery, through certain facts, certain moments, in which the Mystery imposes itself with this evidence. These are facts that we cannot put in our pocket, which we cannot reduce to antecedent factors.
-- Julian Carron in "Friends, that is, Witnesses."