Perspectives | I and me | A talk by Gavin Brown

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Espace spirituel anglophone

dimanche 31 mai à 8h45

Durée émission : 10 min

Espace spirituel anglophone

I and me

Language is a wonderful invention, isn't it? English in particular, with its rich vocabulary, its subtle inflections. But much of the richness of language is hidden from view – with treasures of meaning of which we are scarcely conscious.

These last few weeks - silent, with so few distractions – we have all been looking at our navels, contemplating nature. Birdsong sounds louder when the air is clean. Worries about a virus have done the job no amount of anxiety about climate change was able to achieve.

So I was sitting at home, thinking about one of my favourite subjects – me – and wondering why we all have two words for identifying ourselves, 'I' and 'ME'. When you examine them, they could hardly be more different. One is inclusive, assured, relaxed; the other is forever defining itself more narrowly, becoming more and more self-centred: “look at ME! give it to ME! choose ME!!” What a contrast with the confident majesty of “I AM”.

I is generous; me is mean. Of course, grammatically they are completely different: I is always the subject of the sentence; ME is always objectivised.

In order to survive, ME has to exclude all NON-ME to establish an identity. But I cannot be restricted to a single thread. Where 'ME' is firmly rooted in the everyday, 'I AM' keeps us universal, knowing no boundaries. But ME is forever being pared at the edges, whittled down to an essential core. From up close, it looks as if in fact others are defining 'ME', while 'I' seek to rise above, to get out of the box other people have put me in.

So, does this matter? I believe it does. Not because this situation subjects me personally to the inconvenience of other people's expectations, but because, if we do not make the distinction within ourselves between “I am” and “I exist”, we cannot grow into healthy social beings. Recognition of our duality as both separate beings and members of a community is essential if we are to exercise our first Christain duties, to love God and to love others as ourselves. Loving others cannot be an exercise in selfishness; I AM must also be the one who says I LOVE YOU.

“I AM” may sound defiant, even superior; but do not forget that this is the divine name, used consciously by Jesus to establish his authority; so it also indicates incomparable bravery and self-sacrifice.

Anyway, that's enough about me! I want to close with a hymn which is a tribute to all those devoted to God and the service of others – countrymen, I salute you!


I vow to thee, my country, all earthly things above,
Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love;
The love that asks no questions, the love that stands the test,
That lays upon the altar, the dearest and the best;
The love that never falters, the love that pays the price,
The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.

And there's another country, I've heard of long ago,
Most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know;
We may not count her armies, we may not see her King;
Her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering;
And soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase,
And her ways are ways of gentleness and all her paths are peace.

Lyrics by Cecil Spring-Rice : Music by Gustav Holst
Performed by The Honley Male Voice Choir & The Band of H.M. Royal Marines


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Dimanche à 8h45

Des réflexions spirituelles proposées aux anglophones - sous le titre : Perspectives

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