Thank goodness for the Republicans. They brought me back to my senses last week. As I watched the Las Vegas Republican debate, I finally shouted at the candidates, “You forgot your belly buttons!” Belly buttons prove that no one is a self-made man or woman.
“You forgot your belly buttons!” That’s the moment for which I say “thank you” to the Republicans candidates. I’d forgotten about my belly button until that moment, and I needed to be reminded. They made me think about the meaning of belly buttons again, and that’s a good thing.
Belly buttons. Everybody has one. Innies or outies–it doesn’t matter which one you have. Right now, put one hand on your belly button and remember that, through no work of your own, your mother fed you through that belly button in utero. You’re not a self-made person. And after you were born, someone took care of you, through no merit of your own.
Keep your hand on your belly button and think about your parents, their parents, and their parents. Your belly button connects you to generations whose names you’ll never even know, but whose gift of life you carry in your cells.
Keep your hand on your belly button and remember the people who changed your diapers, fed you, taught you, set your broken arm, and paved the streets where you rode your bicycle. Think about your coaches, your teachers, the people who taught you about faith, and the person who gave you your first job. You’re part of a community that helped you reach maturity. You’re not a self-made person.
Belly buttons prove that no one is a self-made man or woman. Every human being is indebted to others for our very existence and survival. Because of that fact, we have a debt to the rest of humanity. As those who have survived only with the help of others, we have a responsibility to pass it forward by helping others.
There’s even more meaning than this to the belly button: Remembering belly buttons also made me realize that even when I’m stuck inside looking out, I’m still connected with everyone who has ever been part of my life. In the days after the debate, I thought often of friends and acquaintances, family and teachers … and I smiled. I was grateful and felt reconnected again. Thank you, Republicans.
Back to the debate. In my outrage at how disconnected the candidates seemed from the human consequences of their statements, I realized that I could be doing more, myself, to honor my connection with people in need. It’s not fair to shout at politicians for a lack of compassion and then sit on my hands. So I signed up to work more often at a food pantry and with two other organizations.
Whether it’s an innie or an outie, whether I’m confined to my house or free to roam the land, I have a belly button that connects me to the world. It reminds me that I’m not alone, even when I feel lonely. And it reminds me of the interdependence and vulnerability of us all. Thank you, Republicans, for reminding me about our belly buttons.