Tuesday, March 20, 2007



I don't even understand pig latin. But these three words appeared in a book I'm reading called 'Dark Fire' and stars a man with a disability in a time that didn't welcome any kind of difference. The book, set in England under the rule of Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell, presents Matthew Shardlake as the 'sharpest hunchback in court'. 'Dark Fire' is the second of the series (and should be read thusly after 'Dissolution') and in it Matthew runs into the motto 'esse quam videri' which means 'be it, don't seem it'.

I read those words and, like many times in reading Sansom's Shardlake series, I paused and thought for a long long time.

As I paused, I reflected.

As I reflected, I prayed.

This series is changing me.

I'm not sure if the words are advice.

Or challenge.

For me, I think, they are challenge. To break down the artiface that builds around us in day to day interactions, to smash the barriers that are constructed by the social roles we take, to bridge the moats dug deep to protect us from those hurts borne early ever being borne again.

I put these words on the masthead of my blog as much for me, as writer as for you, as reader. I wanted to remind myself that my goal is to become more real as time passes. Simply put, I want to 'be it, not seem it.'

Yet acheiving this goal sometimes frightens me. A couple of times the last week consulting and training and facilitating - who I really was came out, all the passion, the fury, the intensity - and I startled myself as much as anyone else. It was like I was reminded by something deep that I really did, and really do and really always have deeply cared about what I do. About where we are going.

And again, just moments ago. Thinking about going back to work today at my home agency of Vita. Thinking about the process of change that we are going through - a process aimed at increasing the voice of those in care, at increasing the skills of those who serve and increasing the resistance of the system from becoming uncaring. I've seen so many changes this year. And suddenly, I really really believed that it was possible for the system to be human and humane, for agencies to be governed by realization and for gentleness to become practice.

We all present our work as good and our goals as pure.


esse quam videri


Anonymous said...

A timely challenge Dave, thanks. Once again I am in a place where your words fit so well.

Belinda said...

I loved this--yet again. Wonderful writing and wonderful message. I loved the thought, "Be it, don't seem it."

Susan said...

That is a way bigger challenge than it seems... The pull to fake it - to look good - can be very strong... and we can slip out of "being" and into "seeming" and back again without even being aware of it ourselves. And do it a thousand times a day in a hundred different ways.

And you have to be prepared to be misunderstood and to evoke anger from people who just want you to "get with the program" and fake it like they do.

Yeah, I like that motto a lot, Dave. "Be it, don't seem it."

The challenge to "be" through and through exactly what you "seem" to be on the outside... don't just pretend you're something -- be it.

I guess that was basically Jesus' challenge to the religious lot when he told them that it was what comes out of a man that defiles him, not what goes in.

I remember hearing a guy named Erwin McManus speak about integrity. He had a big watermelon on the stage and he said that God designed things that way -- to have integrity. He said that when you looked at that big green watermelon, you expected something on the inside. He took a big knife and cut the watermelon in two. Then he showed us that the inside matched up with what was promised on the outside. (What looked like a watermelon on the outside wasn't a banana or something else on the inside.)

Others should be able to rely on what's inside us by what they see on the outside.

Esse quam videre.

Right on.

Anonymous said...

Another motto you might like, that I think you already live up to:

"Be the change you wish to see in the world" (Mahatma Ghandi)

Which basically means, if you want the world to be a decent, nonviolent, humane place then you have to start by changing yourself into a more decent, nonviolent, humane person than you were previously. Because, ultimately, you can't be responsible for changing others--the only person you truly control is yourself. You can't effectively change the world until you change yourself.

Arun Ghandi (grandson) has an institute on nonviolence and has spoken on this subject. I've never heard him speak myself (either literally -- I'm deaf ;-) ... or figuratively either), but he's supposed to be good and interesting, with many stories to share about what he learned about "being the change" from Mahatma Ghandi. You might find it interesting to hunt down his institute, browse around his web site, maybe catch a lecture.

Unknown said...

A great challenge Dave.

In my writing group I'm constantly reminding people that talking about writing is only a step forward...




My son (Brandon - DS) taught me that the only way forward is to perform every job admirably (to be). In that way if you fail, you've only failed in someone else's eyes and their opinion, in turn, only matters if you allow it to.

Believe and it is so.