Thursday, March 24, 2011

My version of no labels

There has been a theme to the Gospel readings from the Catholic daily masses this week.  I used Monday's in a blog entry earlier this week when talking about getting back what you give.  Tuesday's was about humbling oneself.  Wednesday's was more about serving rather than ruling; and today's was the story of Lazarus, the rich man, and the bosom of Abraham.  While the last one strikes me as a bit more tangential, it too reflects the fact that putting oneself ahead is not what is called for.

I like this theme.  It really reflects where I am in my life right now--giving, or at least trying to give, without glory for myself.  I like to talk about it not to brag, but to share.  To share the wonder of coming together with others to make the world a better place.  To share the joy of being there for someone else.  To share what I believe in my heart to be important.

The interesting thing about sharing in my current context (i.e. Back on My Feet) is that it is a manifestation of something I've been studying in my job for years.  There is a concept called social capital.  It has to do with people being able to rely on each other and having some expectation of doing things for each other.  Mostly as a social norm.

Theory says, when people try to build up social capital they can either build it up with similar people (which is called bonding social capital) or with people who are different (sometimes called bridging social capital).  My neighborhood activity and church Sunday school and worship band participation were bonding.  Back on My Feet is a combination of bonding (with other volunteer runners) and bridging (with the resident members).

And yet, if I step out of my academic world, while I think of it as bridging, I also recognize that at the end of the day the labels for different types of social capital and the labels of one group versus another are just that--labels.  And what did our parents teach us about labels when we were kids?  They mean nothing.  People are people.  And building up mutual respect, understanding, support, and empathy can be just as hard (or just as easy) with a group of people who are supposedly similar as with a group of people who are supposedly different.

When all is said and done life is about serving whomever we happen to have a chance to serve in whatever way as often as possible with no labels--just love.


  1. Nice work Kevin. It's the nameless, selfless giving in His name that He gives the greatest reward. Yet, when we truly walk in that place, the reward becomes irrelevant; the very giving is reward alone.

    Someone once shared a vision with me. And the end of it all, all of the Lord's people, worshipping Him. Each person took off the crowns they had been given, and laid them at his feet.

    Thanks for reminding me what it's all about.

    God bless,

  2. Such cool thoughts. While blogging again is a distraction from work, I just love what I get out of it. Getting my own ideas down. And seeing what it may mean to other people. God bless to you too. One of these days we should cross paths in person again.