The poverty and austerity of Saint Francis were no mere veneer of asceticism, but something much more radical: a refusal to turn reality into an object simply to be used and controlled.
.. Jesus told us, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind” (Luke 10:27). He called us to a presence that is a broader and deeper kind of knowing than just cognitive thinking. Thinking knows things by objectifying them, capturing them as an object of knowledge. But presence knows things by refusing to objectify them; instead it shares in their very subjectivity. Presence allows full give and take, what Martin Buber (1878-1965) called the “I/Thou” relationship with things as opposed to the mere “I/it” relationship. Buber summed it up in his often-quoted phrase: “All real living is meeting.”
There has been so much bad communication over the past year: people talking in warring monologues past each other, ignoring the facts and using lazy stereotypes like “elites” and “Trumpeans” to reduce complex individuals into simplistic categories. Meanwhile, our main candidates are poor connectors. We’ve got the self-enclosed narcissism of Donald Trump and, to a lesser degree, the mistrustful defensiveness of Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
.. You’re fearful, closed or withdrawn — objectifying her, talking at her, offering only a shallow piece of yourself and seeing only the shallow piece of her.
.. I-Thou relationships, on the other hand, are personal, direct, dialogical — nothing is held back. A Thou relationship exists when two or more people are totally immersed in their situation, when deep calls to deep, when they are offering up themselves and embracing the other in some total, unselfconscious way, when they are involved in “mutual animated describing.”
.. A doctor has an I-It relationship with a patient when he treats him as a machine in need of repair.
.. But Buber argued that it’s nonsensical to think of the self in isolation. The I only exists in relation to some other.
.. “The development of the soul in the child is inextricably bound up with that of the longing for the Thou,”
.. “The development of the soul in the child is inextricably bound up with that of the longing for the Thou,” he wrote.
.. You can’t intentionally command I-Thou moments into being. You can only be open to them and provide fertile soil.
.. Today, America is certainly awash in distrust. So many people tell stories of betrayal. So many leaders (Trump) model combativeness, isolation and distrust. But the only way we get beyond depressing years like this one is at the level of intimacy: