But, she queried: How is it that he can offer presence, love, and care to people somewhat removed and not offer it to someone a bit closer? What was it, she pondered, that could stir the heart to give in such a beautiful way to strangers; and, conversely, withhold in both subtle and tangible ways to those physically and emotionally closer?
It is not a new reality that we recognize great minds and hearts that contribute to societal progress, socially, medically, artistically and/or scientifically. Such people are gifts to our macro world. And, while their goodness and contributions cannot be diminished, if their family/relational lives or micro worlds were understood, important tensions and dissonance may be found.
It may be easier for some to love, live and give when the space is not so intimate, not relational, unequal. Often, the humanitarian is in control of whom or what he/she gives to. He/she provides the time, the money, the skill and can rightfully walk away feeling good about his/her good work. Unlike the micro world, he/she is not asked to respond to that which may be uncertain, based upon equity, shared power, reciprocity in giving and receiving; a far less predictable encounter, which makes one vulnerable.
Our micro world, our relational lives with family and friends can embody the humanitarian spirit when we offer our friendship, our time, our skills, and our love, with courage, closeness, flexibility and resolve to be there.