The Other I

September 17, 2011

My People

Filed under: Catholicism and other questions of religion — theotheri @ 7:54 pm

For the last few days, we watched a mining accident unfold in Wales.  It started on Thursday morning about 9 o’clock when the mine flooded.  Three miners escaped, one of whom is critically ill from swallowing slurry.  Four men were still trapped and we watched almost minute by minute as they tried to rescue them.  But by Friday afternoon, all four remaining miners were found dead.

It was not quite as long-lasting as the Chilean mine disaster, but it was much closer.

What I realized for the first time was how very much these people are my husband’s people.  He grew up in a mining community, his father, his grandfathers, his uncles, the fathers and brothers of his school friends, and eventually those friends themselves worked in the coal mines.  His mother who ran a grocery store would sometimes give change after the wives and mothers  of laid-off miners made a purchase.  Except that the “change” handed back was often twice the cost of the original purchase.

Peter never worked in the mine.  But I saw, as we watched this disaster unfold, that they were his people and although he found it extremely stressful to watch, he also could not walk away.  He knows what it is like when the men are trapped.  It is not just that his grandfather was trapped, and his dad was bombed.  When miners are trapped, something that happens to the whole community.  Nobody goes about their business “as usual.”

As I was watching the rescuers,  I realized that, although I no longer share the doctrine of Christianity and most especially the dogmas of Roman Catholicism, they are still my people the way the mining communities are still Peter’s people.   I understand them in a way I can understand no other people.  Because I am part of them. And I can’t remain indifferent to what is happening within Roman Catholicism simply because I am no longer part of it, anymore than Peter can remain detached from a mining accident.

I think this is related to what Christians mean when they talk about faithfulness (as opposed to faith).

But I think the important thing about the concept of my people and the strength that comes from recognizing it is not to forget that in the most significant way, “my people” includes every other human on the planet.

This conclusion doesn’t require Christianity to see it.  Globalization makes it imperative.  We can’t solve our environmental problems alone, or stimulate our economies alone, or keep ourselves and our children safe alone.

It’s true now in a way it’s never been so before:  the whole world are one people.  We are all in this together.



  1. Who gave you permission to use this picture? I know I didn’t and I’m the copyright holder.


    Comment by Matthew Horwood — April 14, 2013 @ 10:31 pm | Reply

    • I offer you my most sincere apologies for the use of your picture on my blog. I thought it was in the public domain, and obviously appreciated its professional quality. It was, as you are perhaps aware, on my blog for a period of about eight hours and as you can see, I have now removed it. Once again, my profound apology.
      The Other I


      Comment by theotheri — April 15, 2013 @ 6:57 am | Reply

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