When I read this quote I was about to give myself a wee little pat on the back because I thought I had actually been doing more of this over the past few years … BUT then … the word committed got me second-guessing myself. Some wise soul once said:
When it comes to making bacon and eggs … the chicken is ‘involved’ but the pig is ‘committed’.
The distinction between ‘clucking’ and ‘oinking’ gave me serious pause. Both chicken and pig are essential contributions to this vision of creating a scrumptious ‘breakfast’ … but they certainly do not reflect the same level of investment. Those who are ‘committed’ are willing to risk it all in passionate pursuit of their dreams and goals. It could certainly be argued that the most remarkable and necessary social changes in history were oinked into being … at great personal cost to the souls whose ‘commitment’ ran deeper their ‘fear.’
I so deeply admire folks like this. I think we all do. Ordinary folks often capture our attention and become the ‘famous’ heroes in history whose stories of self-sacrifice are so inspiring that we remake them into Hollywood movies, captivating biographies and/or historical exhibits. I vividly remember acquainting myself with some of the lesser known souls in an electronic book exhibit at Schindler’s Factory in Berlin, Germany. One of the books cited courageous tales of the German ‘heroes’ of World War II who were so passionately ‘committed’ to their vision that they even sacrificed the security and safety of their own loved ones/children in order to save Jewish families and their children from extinction. The other book revealed stories about the German people who didn’t dare resist Hitler’s powerful force and were viewed as ‘informants’ … perhaps because their fears for the safety of their loved ones/children prevailed and/or trumped their faith in any chance of derailing the prevailing powers of that time. I was utterly silenced and soberly shuttered at the magnitude of daily ‘choices’ that these ordinary souls were faced with …
I remember standing there, warily wondering – wondering clear down to the deepest part of my soul – which book I would have ended up in had I endured that horrific time in history. I stood there, hoping against hope that I would have ended up in the book that told stories of courage and sacrifice but, in all honesty, I am not sure I would have. I know I can be brave … sometimes. I know I have strong convictions … about some things. I know I feel tremendous empathy for the marginalized and oppressed. I know I have always been passionate about alleviating the suffering of humanity … but seriously … if push came to shove, could I really risk the welfare of my own children???
Although my altruistic convictions have propelled me into the field of social work whereby I have professionally ‘committed’ myself to the pursuit of social justice … my involvement has not yet required that I truly sacrifice myself or the safety of my loved ones. In fact, as I reflect back on what my ‘commitment’ has meant thus far, I mostly see a lot of eggs. I am proud of my eggs … but … let’s be candid here, I can see far more clucking than oinking in my benevolent pursuit of social justice.
There is no denying that I’m willing to invest myself in a noble cause … and I do. BUT … it’s so much easier to believe you’d be the bacon when you’re not actually making breakfast. I share this because not too long ago I was faced with a situation where I had to decide how much I was prepared to risk (in order to advocate on behalf of others). It sparked some deep soul searching … and … brought up all kinds of feelings. I knew that I had nothing personal to gain, so in this instance, it would have been so much easier to simply offer up an egg and call it good … BUT … for some reason I just couldn’t. In this particular case, I really was more committed to my vision than my fear.
So, I find myself questioning what prompted my swine-like ‘commitment’ in this particular situation. I can’t quite put my finger on it but I just knew that I feared the consequences of not taking a stand more than I feared the price I might pay in doing so. I knew I wouldn’t sleep if I tried to step over it. In fact, I don’t feel like I chose it … I honestly feel like it chose me. Perhaps these passionate ‘visions’ are not self-decided callings but, rather, are placed inside us by something greater than ourselves?
I don’t know for sure what inspires someone to oink versus cluck, but my musings about it have left me seriously pondering Helen Keller’s bold declaration that: “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing”. I find myself wondering if this insight speaks to a niggling truth inside all of us. Perhaps there is a unique and particular ‘vision’ silently seeded within each of us that will simply not be stilled by fear once it’s been brought to light …
What if life is either a brave and daring oink … or … a safe cluck-cluck here and a secure cluck-cluck there? What would be the rewards of living such a daring and ‘committed’ life? What would be the costs? Maybe there is a time for clucking and a time for oinking? What if we dared to still ourselves long enough to hear its passionate call? These questions resonate very uncomfortably within me … bumping between my anxious preference for safety and my compassionate vision to live a life that is bigger than my fears. I wonder what my answer to the next call will be.
With deepening reverence for all the daring oinkers, Karen