In an environment where the measure of greatness is the ability to compete for power, leadership, status and income on a domestic and global level, what happens to those who don’t make the measure or have slipped? Are they to be secreted away like an embarrassing relation or be despised and made fun of behind their backs and even to their faces? Are they to be denied the respect and esteem given to their “betters”?
“They” are the vulnerable and I am one of them.
There are many times in life when vulnerability raises its jagged head: childhood; emotionally; intellectually; socially; illness – mental and/or physical; financially, during conflict, during war, within a family, within a marriage and so forth. No one can escape being vulnerable at some stage even if only when one was a child at the mercy of (benign or otherwise) adults. It can though, be difficult to process emotionally. It is also hard to admit to being in such a state because to do so could invite a tangle of brazen vultures bent on seizing the opportunity to feast on wounded flesh. The heart baulks at this type of opportunism even though the vulnerable are too weakened to do anything about it.
One book that held me captive while feeding my anxiety was Lord of the Flies by Sir William Golding. I can’t say it was a pleasant read; it unnerved and unsettled in equal measure yet I recommend it unhesitatingly. Who and what are the vulnerable to trust in? After all, scratch the surface and what am I? “Vulnerable”, was the reluctant answer (though not the only answer as Lord of the Flies demonstrated).
Naturally, it is quite distressing to be confronted with such human weakness, particularly when there are uncontrollable frenzied children (from Lord of the Flies) running about.
“Kill the pig! Cut his throat! Kill the pig! Bash him in!” Ralph too was fighting to get near, to get a handful of that brown, vulnerable flesh. desire to squeeze and hurt was over-mastering.
The sad irony is that no one is exempt from acting callously we are all vulnerable to giving in to that temptation occasionally or often as the case may be. Hurting another can be pleasurable because it demonstrates just who the master is, in any case, the master unlikely to be God. Unbeknownst to the proudly callous (hubristic), they too make themselves vulnerable to judgment from God (and from their clear-sighted peers who may be able to rein in their behaviour).
For the vulnerable, there is a little gift; for what distinguishes the vulnerable from the callous is the potential to “LUV-ABLE” (what to make of the remaining NER I don’t know; perhaps a nice basket can be weaved from those letters). This means that during those times of vulnerability choices have been given: to luv my neighbour as myself or join the callous.
What I realized though while trying to process this word was that without God, I am vulnerable indeed. Well, at least now I know where to place my trust.
Thank you for Psalm 127 which inspired this blog.
Unless the Lord builds the house,
its builders labour in vain on it;
unless the Lord watches over the city,
the watchman keeps vigil in vain.
In vain do you rise early
and stay up late,
you who toil for the bread you eat;
He provides as much for His loved ones while they sleep.
Sons are the provision of the Lord;
the fruit of the womb, His reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are sons born to a man in his youth.
Happy is the man who fills his quiver with them;
They shall not be put to shame
when they contend with the enemy in the gate.