Unique But Not Alone

Today, I feel ‘renewed’ after reflecting from the words in the Holy Scriptures. It has been a while since I last read the Holy Scriptures. It is nice to regain the habit of reading the Holy Scriptures a few weeks ago.

This morning, while the sun is yet to break and while waiting for the chicken to crow, I felt the urged of reading the 6th chapter of the gospel of John, one of the long chapters in the Bible. It spoke about the miracle of multiplying the loaves and the fish. From this miracle event, Jesus went on with the discourse on the bread of life. I am not contemplating about Jesus or about the bread of life. I am particularly struck by these verses: “Then one of Jesus’ disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said, there is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many? (John 6 verses 8:9)”
From the barley loaves and two fishes, Jesus did miraculous multiplication to feed thousands of people who came to listen to Him.

While we praise Jesus for this miracle, He is God-Made-Man; I wish to dwell on the ‘significant’ role of the unnamed boy. What could have happened had that boy not been on the same crowd who followed Jesus? As the Bible says: Jesus knew what He wanted to do. But the boy, yes that boy, is of importance. Despite the large crowd who followed the Lord, why was that boy identified by Andrew? We never knew the reason(s). Yet, it says a lot about the person, or any person for that matter. The boy was simply unique. Out of the multitude, he was the only one identified by Andrew. Perhaps, he was the only one carrying with him some provisions for the journey. (Remember: The Feast of the Passover was drawing nearer). As many scholars believe, the boy’s loaves and fish saved the day.

Each person is unique.  This uniqueness of a person is one of the most discussed, the most forgotten, and neglected. For someone like me who ‘manages’ people, I usually look at the role of the other person(s). I look at people through the way they do their tasks and the way they perform relative to their ‘targets’. This is how we are measured in our work—targets (indicated by numbers). We treat each other by how many, not by how come?

Back to the biblical narrative: I was amazed not by what the boy brought, but by why he brought them. And this uniqueness brings us to trouble. Since each one is unique, the burden of adjustment is always on the other, not on me. While I recognize that each person has his or her own idiosyncratic ways and preferences, others do have too. I admit that I have been to some troubles because I failed to understand others’ ‘uniqueness’.

I have been accused, in fact, of being ruthless and insensitive because I failed to recognize that each person has his/her unique culture. I agree at some point. But it really drives me nuts when people insist their uniqueness to justify, and, worst, to cover for, their mistakes and shortcomings. I understand if such happens only once. If it has become a practice, a habit, I am prepared to throw the notion of uniqueness out of the window and deal with the failure, fair and square.

While I recognize the uniqueness of the person as one fundamental gift from God, I also believe (almost stubbornly) that this uniqueness must be lived in the context of a community. Yes, each person is unique, but he or she is not alone. This is precisely the point of the story. The boy was unique. But his possessions (five loaves and two fish) were shared by the community. When this happened, everybody was satisfied, everybody was happy. And there were even more to spare.

With this, I remind myself: I am unique, yet I am not alone. I am a person plunged into a community of unique people. And the next time I hear people claiming that they are unique, and stop there with such claim, pardon me if I frown.

By nomos

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