“Because we are flesh, we know best that with which we are familiar. We love most those around us. We yearn for connections to real people in real places, people we can touch and who can touch us. We love most intensely those people around us. We hold our children in our arms, and we breathe with them as one, and we love them deeply in each breath. And that is as it should be. We are flesh that touches and is touched.

But at the same time we are spirit. We know that to live our humanity to its fullest requires moving beyond the flesh.

And so we know there can be no difference between how we treat those we love and those on the other side of the world whom we will never know and never touch. If our lives and the lives of the ones we love have value – if by virtue of being human we have a claim to life and dignity in living – then everyone must have that same claim.

We know that the children we hold in our arms have exactly the same value as those children we will never see, held in the arms of those we will never know. If our lives in flesh are to make any sense, our spirit must move beyond the ones we touch, the ones we love.

This is our struggle, and it is hard, because when we lose a loved one, when someone we have touched and who has touched us suffers, we cannot help but feel it more deeply. Our flesh aches. That is what it is to be human.

And at the same time we have to push ourselves to think about the suffering of those we will never touch. Our spirit has to ache as deeply as our flesh. That, too, is what it is to be human.

If we are the people we say we are – if we believe the things we profess to believe, if we want to build the world we claim to want to build – then we must struggle with this. And it will be hard.”

Robert Jensen

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