Pentecost + 16 - Year C
Behavior shapes thinking and thinking shapes behavior. We have known this for a long, long time. So how do we learn to pass a test that comes around every time we might "assist the plans of the poor"?
There is an article about learning in Tuesday's New York Times, Forget What You Know About Good Study Habits that suggests:
1) We change our location of study so the same material is presented in a variety of settings. We need to assist the plans of the poor in our family settings, friendship circles, work places, political conversations, etc. To limit our advocacy to one arena is to only study in one place. Our retention of the issue and our effective engagement lessens if we only address this matter at, say, the macro political level or at, perhaps, the personal.
2) We mix our studies together in the same way an athlete will vary their training for strength and endurance and quickness and particular skill drills. There are many aspects to assisting the plans of the poor and we are called to engage our assistance from personal, sociological, economic, political, educational, etc angles. Each facet will have something to add to our learning.
3) We use wider comparisons and fewer intensive immersions. Our brain and heart can pick up underlying patterns when we see the plans of the poor through the lens of ethnic women, white males with a privileged way, hungry children, etc. Each time we look again, we appreciate more deeply the way poverty is entrenched and how we seek to personally avoid it, even at the cost of someone else being poor.
4) We space our learnings rather than cram. Each time we revisit an task such as assisting the plans of the poor we find we have forgotten something and need to relearn a part of our world and work. This makes forgetting a part of long-term remembering. Each time we are surprised that poverty is so stark and pervasive, we have an opportunity to re-learn our place on G*D's side.
5) We seek out tests. The heightened engagement with a test assists us in learning. Like Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, "testing not only measures knowledge but changes it - happily in the direction of more certainty, not less." This is not teaching to the test, but using tests to reinforce the learning - there is a significant difference. A key part of the test is where we find ourselves - face-to-face with the poor or just talking about them.
6) We need to pay attention our motivations, who are we are trying to please by learning how to assist the plans of the poor and for whom are we trying please by avoiding or failing this test?
Anyway, intentional foolishness does us no long-term good (for ourself or anyone else). There are ways of shifting to wisdom. Let's help one another so shift. The plans of the poor are a catalyst that will return us to a healing community and the fortunes of all will rise as we engage and implement those plans.