During the recent International SALT visit in Indonesia, we started the session by asking this question: Are we human? What doesn't mean to be human?"
Well, needless to say, it was very easy to answer the question. Words like patient, listening, compassion, forgiving, etc...etc... were being offered.
The next day after our visit to the Transgender community, I went back to my room and started to ponder about what is really the question. I felt the question probably is " are we relating as human? What does it mean to relate as human?" The difference here is the word "relating". This question has been staying with me since then till now and I am still figuring it out!
Anyway, I felt challenged to the very core of what it means to relate as human during the recent visits to the 3 different communities (transgender, MSM and female sex workers), In particular the visit to the transgender community gave me, by far, one of the greatest gift of witnessing the demonstration of "relating as human" in action. When a member of the community was asked about how they get their funds to sustain the place - paying rental, buying food and the necessities to care for the the sick members of the community - she responded by saying: "Ms. A somehow always have money in her pocket." Naturally everyone turned to look at Ms. A for a response. Smiling, Ms A (who is probably in her late 40s) responded, "Well, I go out and "sell service" once a week to ensure that we have money to provide for our members, especially those who are sick and are in need of food and medicine". There was total silence in the room while Ms A continued to smile, probably wondering what that silence meant. Probably to her, that is the most normal thing to do to a fellow human being. Interestingly, as I heard this story, I was thinkin: "gosh! there's so much I - who belong to the 'normal' society- have to learn from the generally perceived 'abnormal' community.
Very often, I find myself going to distant places seeking for the real meaning of life. However, through a few SALT visits to communities, in particular to the different so-called "abnormal, non-mainstream, socially marginalised" communities, time and again, i have discovered that in there lies the true and pure demonstration of "what it means to relate as human".
As I left Jogjakarta today, I am very thankful and I felt blessed and priviledged to have met these extraordinary people. The countless hours and years of religious studies on the meaning of love is nothing compared to the few hours I spent with the communities.