Encountering the Other

“Think about it. I woke up this mornin’, I woke up this mornin’. Gotta smile when I say that shit, I woke up this mornin’”- Chance the Rapper, “Somewhere in Paradise”

Part Two 

In order to highlight the message of my last post, I wanted to share this passage from Luigi Giussani. I think this is a really cool thing to imagine. The image of ‘being born’ or ‘waking up’ is incredibly powerful. Human beings have been given the gift of consciousness. This means that in any moment of any day we can take a step back in wonder of the world around us. We can voluntarily let the natural world and other people encounter us in our personhood. We can become aware of how much doesn’t make sense, how much we can’t understand, how crazy it is that we even exist. The gift of self-consciousness allows us to be yanked out of the mundane world of our everyday lives to get hit by the wonder of the transcendent, only to realize the fact that it is in the ordinary present moment that the transcendent touches us. The ‘other’ desires to reach us, to awaken us, to shake us up so we may realize the gift of existence. 

Luigi Giusssani, How the Ultimate Questions Arise:

Picture yourself being born, coming out of your mother’s womb at the age you are now at this very moment in terms of your development and consciousness. What would be the first, absolutely your initial reaction? If I were to open my eyes for the first time in this instant, emerging from my mother’s womb, I would be overpowered by the wonder and awe of things as a “presence.” I would be bowled over and amazed by the stupefying repercussion of a presence which that is expressed in current language by the word “thing.” Things! That’s “something!” “Thing,” which is a concrete and, if you please, banal version of the word “being.” Being: not as some abstract entity, but as presence, a presence which I do not myself make, which I find. A presence which imposes itself upon me.

The awe, the marvel of this reality which imposes itself upon me, of this presence which reaches me is at the origin of the awakening of human consciousness.

At this moment, if I am attentive, that is, if I am mature, then I cannot deny that the greatest and most profound evidence is that I do not make myself, I am not making myself. I do not give myself being, or the reality which I am. I am “given.” This is the moment of maturity when I discover myself to be dependent upon something else.

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