I love fresh asparagus! Especially right off my charcoal grill next to a ribeye steak and baked potato. Yum! When I was a kid growing up in rural Wisconsin, my grandmother knew all the spots along the roadside where the wild asparagus grew. I remember―even now―going for a drive and picking it. What a wonderful thing it was. A real gift!
Vyacheslav Ivanov, the Russian poet and philosopher, said, “Justice is a pious attention to everything.”
We talk a lot about the virtue of justice in my circles. Not as in criminal justice―law and order justice―but justice toward people which disposes one to:
- respect the rights of every individual, and
- establish the harmony that promotes equity in our personal relationships.
Justice is giving everyone what’s due to them, given their dignity as a human person.
We might discuss and debate another time what people may be “entitled” to, given our “entitlement”-oriented society and how that operates, but forget that for now. I’m thinking more about our one-to-one encounters with people―even that very casual encounter with someone at the supermarket―who we have never met and will likely never see again―the kindness, respect, and honor due them because they are a someone and not simply a something.
But the sentiment of the Ivanov quote is, as I read it, that every thing demands pious attention: kindness, respect, and honor because it too exists and has dignity. Every thing―your home, yard, car, and clothes―is due proper care and stewardship. From a spiritual perspective, every thing is an outright gift. And if it’s a product, it existed first as a raw gift of nature. But it now contains the value added to it by others.
So, what does this have to do with asparagus? It is just one small, subtle example of what I have just described. Consider the fresh asparagus you buy at the supermarket (or any other food you appreciate)―domesticated, cultivated, planted, harvested, processed, shipped and sold―by people. These human persons have, with dignity, added their time and talent to that pure gift of nature so that I can have it for dinner.
To give it the appreciation and respect that it’s due―and all the people who contributed their time and talent to providing it―is justice. It is just one example of pious attention and honor to both the something―and the someone.
The practical and spiritual takeaway: endeavor to take no thing, and no one, for granted.
Written by Jim Gernetzke, business/life coach and founder of Nos Lumine