Human Greatness


I know remarkable people. Scientists with brilliant minds and habits of focus, discipline, and tenacity. Musicians whose artistry lifts my soul in ways that are so commanding and mysterious it borders on the miraculous. Mothers in the middle of decades of caring for a disabled child. Athletes so beautiful, fluid, and strong that in another era would be called children of the gods.

These people are exemplars of human greatness.

I know other humans whose greatness is no less admirable once we learn to see it. It takes a special eye to see it, a vision akin to that of an artist or musician or scientist–both gift and fruit of practice and learning. I’m thinking of my friends who are pushing back against suicide. Every night they make a new decision to go to bed without taking a lethal dose. Every morning they decide to stay alive at least until evening. They could buy peace with death. Instead they choose to live for one more day, one more night. In keeping themselves alive they put off for a little longer the bereavement of God that comes at the death of his children, especially the ones he has drawn so closely to in the pain of their struggle.

This morning, sitting on my stool at dawn, I moved back and forth from joyous contemplation of the shining sky to heart ache and astonished admiration of my friends who have made it through one more tortured night.

I salute their greatness.