the view from the edge is clearer

some months ago i listened to the rachel naomi remen on being episode about listening generously. aside from being an awesome episode because i think listening is critical to democracy, she spoke some truth in very elegant way:

“the keepers of wisdom in our culture are the people who have experienced the most difficult things in their lives. the view from the edge is a clearer view then the view that most of us have.” (paraphrased)

for a long time i’ve operated under that notion, but i’ve never heard this idea articulated in the way the she did. growing up in the church, being disillusioned with mainstream christianity, and then becoming increasingly interested in radical christianity, it was apparent to me that caring for the poor, untouchable, broken, and/or marginalized people was central to the faith.

what i didn’t realize back then was that for Jesus, caring for the marginalized wasn’t just a good thing to do; it was actually critical to understanding the true nature of the systems and social structures in which we live.

this truth is quite apparent in some ways. for example, everyone knows that getting advice about a relationship situation is a good idea. someone who isn’t inside the relationship can much more easily discern what’s happening and then provide helpful advice on how to move forward.

so why wouldn’t the same be true for society?

i think it is. and those who have or are falling through the cracks of our systems are where the most valuable knowledge for fixing them should come from.