Today one of my friends told me that the Japanese word for “thank-you” can also be used for regret as in “I’m sorry”. Dependant on the context the word can have different meanings. As I’ve said before, our community is on the journey of Christ that places us on an encounter with the poor.
In encountering our brothers and sisters we’re tempted to see ourselves as patrons and in doing so to patronize them. If help is given in this way, people feel the in-between feeling of thankfulness and regret. On the one hand they feel grateful for the ‘gift’ on the other they feel remorse for being in the position of needing help.
This is where the whole field of ‘sustainable development’ comes into play. The old adage of “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach him how to fish and you feed him for a life-time.” The journey of the rich has to move beyond patronizing acts. A lot of people ask me if our journey with the poor ‘makes me feel good.’ The answer is sometimes.
Most of the times I’m still confronted by my spiritual-colonial spirit. The part in me that views myself and my clan as superior and able to give or teach people some valuable things. Help like this will get a thank you and a sorry at the same time.