Where do we go from here?

end_of_the_road“Love many, but trust few.”  So read the words in an answer to a question I offered to Ugandan men in my continued research.  (I am looking into how Ugandan men describe the tools they use to navigate life.)

The question was about which Ugandan proverbs help the participants understand what is expected of them as “men” in society.

One answer was: “Love many, but trust few.”

As I unpack the answer, I am challenged and convicted.

I see a vulnerability (“love many”) that is quickly corrected by self-preservation (“but trust few”).

This is perhaps one of  the classic dichotomies of this human experience: the balance between giving and preserving.

SELAH.

As I examine our current political realities (including the fears of my left-most friends, the convictions of my right-most friends, and the great fallibility of my own reasoning), I see this tension between love and preservation, and I am left with this question: “So where do we go from here?”

I suggest asking ourselves three questions:

  1. Have we been here before?  What does history have to tell us?  Look it up.  Think about it.  Study about it” before you “panic about it.  We are not the first humans.
  2. Why am I afraid?  I used to think that the suffix “-phobia” was overused.  But the longer I live and the longer I encounter brick walls (physically, spiritually and mentally), I realize that these walls are constructed out of fear.  But if our strength comes from the Lord or from other concrete capacities, why build the wall?
  3. Might I be better?  Throughout my life, my parents have told me that they hope I will be [even] better than they.  It used to confuse me.  But now I say the same to my kids.  The privilege of standing on the shoulders of our spiritual/adopted/biological elders is not to be discounted, but rather to be considered as paramount in this question about where we go from here.

Greatness happens–with purpose, instruction, and thought.

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3 Responses to Where do we go from here?

  1. Suzy
    March 9, 2014 at 9:52 am

    Nathaniel. AGAIN reading your blog has made my day! You inspire me to deeper thought and challenge my soul. Thanks for being there for me, my dear friend. Our beloved AFRICA misses your physical presence here but we know your heart is ever ours. S—

  2. October 6, 2014 at 5:38 pm

    I think I have come to accept the premise that there are two basic emotions in we humans – Love and Fear! All other emotions flow out of those base emotions. It is difficult to love and not trust, but fear moves us to self protection. There is a contrasting element here that may not be reconcilable. To love and trust, I may have to give up self protection and become vulnerable to hurt.

    Personally, I choose to love and pay the consequences of disappointment because of the power of love and the affirming power of trust. It is better to have loved and lost, than not to have loved at all. Yet, I suspect that this is not the average human choice.

    • October 6, 2014 at 5:55 pm

      I agree with this, David. Over the years, I have had to make more than one conscious choice to place myself in vulnerable situations because to do otherwise would be to sacrifice compassion and love. When framed thus, it becomes very clear how to proceed. Thanks for the comment and thoughts.

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Nathaniel is CEO of AidChild.org. He holds a Master's Degree in Human Development and Psychology from Harvard University where he was a Reynolds Fellow in Social Entrepreneurship, and winner of the 2010 Harvard HDP Marshal Award. He also holds a PhD in Leadership Studies from the University of San Diego where he was the Dammeyer Fellow in Global Education Leadership, and a Cordes Fellow at Opportunity Collaboration. Nathaniel is author of "We Are Not Mahogany: Three stories about the male African life." Prior to his move to Uganda in 2000, Nathaniel was Deputy Director of the Office of the Governor of Arizona, and Director of Education at Leadership, Inc.

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