The Power of Presence
Did it ever come to mind that something as basic as Your Presence could be a powerful weapon against many shortcomings and problems in this world? Your presence can bring relief, understanding and guidance. It is slow but effective. Some problems can be solved by us humans, some not, but the suffering that a problem causes can be reduced by Your Presence. Really.
Your Presence will bring relief to burdens.
If you help carrying a burden, the relief is obvious. If you just come and sit here for a while, your presence will still ease the burden – just by your sheer presence. All of us become a little bit happier just by knowing that we’re not alone, by seeing that somebody cares. You see me. You hear me.
Whether you really help carrying something or just show up, your presence will ease.
Your Presence will bring understanding. You see, just by being here, you cannot desist watching and learning a little about what we do here, why we do it and what we look like inside. And of course – I will understand a little bit about you.
Understanding is the antidote to fear, which is the mother of intolerance.
Your Presence will give guidance. Burdens are heavy to bear. People we never met are difficult to understand. And making decisions and choosing a direction without anyone to talk to is difficult and simply no fun at all. The need for each and every one of us to comprehend what we’re doing here, and to decide about the thousands of small things and the hundreds of big things, is part of life. Since decisions have an impact on our life, they are important stuff – and having to make them all alone is not only boring, it is difficult, and it runs the risk of making me feel insecure even about my best decisions.
The sheer presence of your built-in wisdom and your experiences of life gives me support to find my own path.
The absolute fantastic thing about being present is that it requires no knowledge, no training, no money. Just you and your time – so come as you are.
But. Your Presence has become a scarce supply.
I like to think of presence as a matter of both physical presence and personal responsibility. Due to our civilization’s gravitation towards delegation of individual human responsibilities and obligations, you and I have simply become less present. Rich as we are, we can now enjoy the fantastic possibility to buy our peace of mind and time off by delegating what’s difficult, boring or just plain awkward – to service providers and machines, to systems, organizations and governments. Or to whoever. Sure, it feels convenient. But it also makes us less present.
If we go too far and manage to escape everything that is potentially challenging it will distance us from natural activities, from other people, and it will seduce us to lose our hardwired sense of responsibility for being a human. Slowly, it makes us less capable as fellow human beings. And herein lies the the paradox of presence: Being present and taking responsibility is hard work, but not doing so may turn out to be even harder work.
We leave to the school to make citizens out of our children, we leave to service staff to entertain our aging parents and we leave to the government to solve immigrant integration (we even have unmanned aircrafts drop our bombs).
The purpose of letting someone or something else replace your presence, carry out your awkward to-dos or shoulder your accountability may be to get peace of mind and release time to attend more meaningful activities. But in the long run you might find that the reward is the reverse, since the action of avoiding or delegating away your human chores makes your life feel less valuable to yourself. It might appear as if you got rid of some pain since you no longer have to see or be close to emotionally or physically demanding situations, but inside there is a subtle sensation, an itching conscience.
I believe that increased personal presence can help people in stagnating civilized societies to reconquer meaning, and I believe that it can reach even further and contribute to challenge the vast inequality between rich and poor worlds. It is true that our civilization process has brought with it many good things, especially to us in the rich countries – but it is also not a lie that the very same civilization has widened the gap between those who have and those who do not have. This may lead our politicians to first scratch their heads, and then to create yet another smart system, technology or policy in order to bridge the gap. But that doesn’t work. Every time we try to persuade ourselves that a machine, a law, a company, money or a new system can replace our personal presence and responsibility – that gap grows.
I wish that all the wise men and women – who know that attitudes and behavior are forces much stronger than both money and war – will formulate their ideas in a way that everyone can understand, and start spreading the word that our personal involvement and behavior is crucial in order to create good change.
The beauty and versatility of the human mind and soul has not yet been possible to replace by any system, policy or technology. This is what makes your presence such a powerful tool. Your presence can ease burdens, bring understanding and give guidance. Not using it will bring you further from the real world and allow the gaps between people to keep growing.
So, don’t make it complicated. Come as you are.