I've listened time and again to their stories of the people they have saved...the sad, lost souls, drug addicts, what have you, who were lost, screwed, just totally fucked until they stepped in and showed them a better way of life and led them away from their imminent demised. Some of them truly are saved, they go on to live richer lives, grateful for their riches, grateful. Others, less so. They falter, they fall, they go back, or change, or move on. They are ungrateful, they are ingrates. They do not feel the sacrifices made to bring them out of their destitute lives, they do not understand the love and struggle their benefactor endured to change them.
No. I am not talking about a priest. I am not talking about a missionary. I am not talking about a deity.
Oh the ugly American. Oh the hidden superhero, driven to save instead of help, fancied, in their own mine, a hero and victor.
Understand, I think the desire to help people in beautiful. The desire to be part of a solution in world in which there are so many ways to be part of a problem is important, moving and I wish I saw it even more often than I do.
There are a great many ways people need help and a great many ways you can be there for people in need.
But that help needs to be rooted in respect, driven by less a selfless desire to give than a driving need to better your world and help everyone reach their potential. It needs to begin with the understanding that there is no saving, no trash grabbed before it reaches the incinerator, no soul pinched before it descends to hell in your holy little hands. Help begins with allowing people the tools they need to move themselves where they need and want to be. And that is it.
To save someone is an entirely different manner. To fancy oneself a savior, inherently ugly. It is a patriarchal step towards ruin, in which you see yourself as not just equipped with the tools to help, but somehow better, somehow inherently in the position to offer grace on your own terms, in scape of your own value system.
There is a Vonnegut quote that postulates that evil lives in mans desire to hate and believe that G-d hates along with him. It is that ego that allows man to make war gladly, to punish without reserve or limit.
I'd postulate that the need to believe that your works, your love, your desires are equally holy, equally without question and endowed with unending power is just as ugly. And that it is ego, unadulterated, to want a minion of those who are eternally gracious, who owe your their happiness, or who owe you at all.
And finally, that you should always question, you should always know: you might be strong, you might be lucky, but you are just that, a strong lucky human, and it is nice of you to help.
Or, to put it better.
We don't need another hero.
Do you work, and do it well. Then go home, relax, and find peace in the good you do and the gratitude you owe, as well.