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Rev. Peter Raible

Rev. Peter Raible was a minister in the Unitarian Universalist Church, an advocate for the rights of refugees and a social commentator.

The following quote is from one of his sermons:

We build on foundations we did not lay. We warm ourselves by fires we did not light. We sit in the shade of trees we did not plant, we drink from wells we did not drink, we profit from persons we do not know. We are ever bound in community.-Peter Raible

Who is this Guy?

The most effective tool I have for really understanding something is to experience it personally, so if I am exploring something properly I need to allow myself to take one side or the other and to ask how I feel, rather than what I think.

Unfortunately this means sometimes I take things personally without realising it, until I step back and stop acting on what I feel and ask myself what I think. How quickly I realise usually depends how passionate I am about the topic already.

In this instance I allowed myself to continue with the initial knee-jerk reaction and explore why it made me feel that way rather than snapping myself out of it.

My first emotional response was: Who is this guy?

Why

Peter Raible, your quote bugged me.

My immediate response to Raible’s quote was to point out the foundations I have laid for others and the fires I lit to warm another, and even the trees I have planted, who is this guy to say I am a freeloader?

All based on the feeling that the quote was saying I was freeloading on another’s work.

My head tells me he isn’t saying any such thing, but that doesn’t invalidate the feeling. It just places responsibility for the feeling with me rather than with the quote and if I am to be honest, it suggests I have some issues with my work not being appreciated.

Read it again

Raible isn’t saying everyone is freeloading on other peoples work, he is pointing out that we all contribute and we all freeload. The only time freeloading becomes a problem is when it is in imbalance and there are more freeloaders than contributors. Freeloaders in the future are the reason we build foundations now, without someone to build on our foundations, what’s the point of laying them?

conclusion

Raible’s quote - rather than containing any negative description - describes the perfectly balanced community. Raible’s community is a community, where the foundations were laid by willing hands and prepared for a future full of building, enjoying and growing.


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