the mudpond

It's good to let things breathe in your imagination because often your initial response to it is not the best thought-through response. I savour little glimpses of life. Mine and those of people who turn me sideways and around. Friend or stranger. Even a child. (the world looks different from down there) Sometimes an author, photographer, artist. I let things saturate and incubate here. Hopefully, deeper meanings can percolate up and flower.

Name:
Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

A stray cat.

6/24/2005

Pity

I HAVE BEEN mulling on one word.

Pity

What is pity? Is it feeling sorry towards something? Is it useful, does it help the subject of your pity? Or sympathy?

My friend Jane attends morning mass daily. Thanks to her, I recently discovered the joys and graces of reciting Lauds and Vespers to begin and end my day. Jane has given me a gift I can never ever hope to repay.

Lately, Jane has been getting me to lead the recitation of Lauds.

Now, I am not particularly fond of the mike. I wriggle out of public speaking whenever I can get away with it. I can expend a great deal of brain power to come up with disproportionately elaborate plots and schemes to cop out.

When Jane first asked me to fill in for someone who did not turn up, a small miracle happened. I didn’t hesitate. Not even for a nano second. I said "yes". No excuses came to mind.

Copping out on Jane is unthinkable.

Jane has been a commentator in the church for over ten years. She has a lovely mellow and calm voice. Perfect diction. Faultless pronunciation. When she reads, you feel drawn to the words that spill from her lips in perfect timing and pitch. To put it rather clumsily, Jane speaks, erm… musically.

It didn’t turn out too bad, actually. My tongue didn’t freeze or trip, the words rolled off quite easily. My throat didn't hurt. I still have to work on the intonations though.

Jane is like my speech therapist. She is my role model, an inspiring one. Ever since she became my trainer and friend, I have dropped one word from my vocabulary.

Pity.

There's just too much connotation to this word. Pity doesn't help anything. Pity is terrible because you are elevating yourself above another when you pity.

Jane has a confidence that is immensely reassuring. The serenity in her voice is instantly comforting. She is a woman of great dignity. To people like Jane, pity is useless and condescending.

Jane is forty-something. She is wheelchair bound. She is a Thalidomide victim. She was born with no legs at all. Pity does nothing for her except to denigrate her. Pity is an insult to someone who can hold you captive with just her voice.

And I understand where she's coming from, perfectly, when she said this:

“It can get frustrating when you meet people and the first thing you see in their eyes is pity when they know little to nothing about you.”

Then, there is this simple wisdom:

pity = give a man a fish, feed him for a day.
empathy = teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.

This might help you appreciate why pity is a natural instinct we should learn to resist.

Oh, by the way, I am dropping another word from my vocabulary.

Disabled

I am replacing it with 'differently abled'

If you had clicked on the link (and read the entire article), you will understand perfectly well, why 'differently abled' is a better way of seeing and feeling, of empowering and affirming their dignity. Try it, I urge you.

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9 Comments:

Blogger thquah said...

Wow,I am amazed by the words you used.Envy you lah......lol

6:21 PM  
Blogger 5xmom ~chanlilian.net~ said...

Marvellous, isn't it? The ugly duckling who turn into swan? Or at least that is how mini me feel when I go up there, with so many eyes staring, stone face and I go yadda, yadda yadda without my heart throbbing or my mouth gone dried or accidentally swallowed my tongue like it should have been. So, I can only thank the Lord for that courage. I am an accidental lector too. I praised Anne the lector for her good voice and wham! she pulled me to the priest and told him I want to be a lector. hahahaha. Before I can say anything, Mr Priest said I am it.

6:30 PM  
Blogger percolator said...

th,
AS the song goes: "it's only words..." A smile is much less work and almost never misunderstood.

5xmom,
hehe.. our parish is more.. should I say... democratic. The priest leaves most things to us. Anyone who wants to do, can do. Jane is truly awesome. Her voice can easily DISABLE my words in a pip!

8:51 PM  
Blogger Lucia Lai said...

it's good to learn that jane, a differently abled person is willing to volunteer her service as commentator. sadly in our church, there are so few volunteers to be commentators, lectors, organists. a priest always said, there are hundred and hundreds of you coming for mass every sunday, hundreds of you sitting down there... can't you just offer your service to come up here to read, commentate, play organ, serve as altar boy, etc.

i read and commentate in church but since i can't sing, when i commentate, i have a cantor to sing for me.

5:21 PM  
Blogger percolator said...

yes lucia,
Jane is blessed with exceptional talent and she is extremely generous, sharing her gift with others, always with a cheerful smile.

9:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll be very vary about overly PC ideology insinuating itself everywhere. I'll rather wish you, "Merry Christmas", than "Happy Holidays", anytime. You know why, I'm sure.

~wits0~

1:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...(BTW)While I quite agree with you on this specific instance of the injection of the unthinking element of condescension in the use of "pity", though. ;)

~wits~

1:17 PM  
Blogger percolator said...

wits0,
Hey, I'm so dim today. So what's the "PC ideology insinuating itself everywhere" I should be vary of?

3:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the sixties and seventies the street protestestors wanted unilateral disarmament from the West.

When Christiane Amanpour interviewed Rafsanjani she dorns a scarf. (We don't see Condi doing that with the Saudis).

The Feminists in America.e.g., really are not concerned about misogyny outside their society despite their name.

Spot the animal now?

~wits0~

3:45 PM  

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