don’t just do something, stand there

i have always liked the saying, “don’t just do something, stand there.” especially if it is an invitation to stand in loving prayer and solidarity.

standing there can also be seen as a corrective to a focus on hyper-productivity in our lives. to see more clearly and question what the world puts forth as ultimate value is a step in the right direction towards love. sometimes, we just need to stand there– or perhaps lie there.

there’s a new social movement/protest in china called tang ping. from the bbc: “the idea behind ‘tang ping’ – not overworking, being content with more attainable achievements and allowing time to unwind – has been praised by many and inspired numerous memes. It has been described as a spiritual movement.” ( )

tang ping is shown in china’s lying down movement:

Luo Huazhong, who popularized the idea of adopting a more relaxed approach to life, taking a break in Jiande, China.
Luo Huazhong, who popularized the idea of adopting a more relaxed approach to life, taking a break in Jiande, China.Credit…Qilai Shen for The New York Times

the exploitation of human beings for money and greed is as old as the hills. in the usa, the consequences of child labor are easily seen. thankfully, over the years child labor laws were enacted. perhaps the “lying down” movement will shift the public and cultural economic life of china. with a population of 1.44 billion and a continued growing economy, the soil for worker exploitation is coming to light. the 72 hour average work week in china is not conducive to human flourishing. there is push back to acts that are de-humanizing our brothers and sisters.

china’s resistance to slave-like conditions on their working population questions the primacy of money over people for the benefit of the powerful.

in broadest terms the question is: do human being exist for the economy or does the economy exist for human beings? other guiding questions are: who benefits from the economy as it is now? who is being de-humanized and exploited in the economy? what affect does the economy have on people who live in poverty?

i can be viewed as a burden on society. in terms of economic productivity, my own lifestyle adds very little to the usa’s economic standards of well being. since i do not earn an income nor do i pay income taxes at any level, i can be considered a societal burden. of course, i do consume and buy things personally, but i do not buy big ticket items. the most expensive thing i own is my six string guitar. i have chosen voluntary “poverty” as a vow for life and this puts me at odds with being a good american with those who look at people with economic eyes. producing and consuming are not the primary actions that ought to define any human being.

as a claretian missionary priest, i proclaim that love– of God, creation and neighbor– is the highest value for living in the world. unpacking the meaning of love is the adventure that i will continue to propose to those who might listen to me. love is shown in peace, reconciliation, justice, harmony, challenge, grace, courage, strength, consolation, wonder and awe, leisure, generosity, kindness and all sorts of other manifestations.

so, don’t just do something, stand there. and let us open our eyes to the Spirit’s presence among us calling us to be more human and to love. jesus said, “i have come that they may have life and have it in abundance.”

and close with jesus’ invitation in today’s mass gospel:

Jesus said:
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”
matthew 11

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