Jimmy and the Pineapple

Posted on: March 6, 2019, by :

While it seems that the most significant things about me and you are the ways we are different, in fact the most significant things are the ways we are the same – our common humanity.”

Those are the words of social researcher and commentator Hugh Mackay, spoken at a seminar I attended on Thursday entitled Towards a More Compassionate and Less Anxious Australia.  It was a very worthwhile presentation and will provide much food for thought, writing and preaching!  But the story I’m going to share here was told by Andrew Menzies, Principal of Stirling Theological College, in his introduction to Hugh Mackay. I repeat it because it offers a great illustration of Hugh Mackay’s quote.

Andrew told us about his local cricket club, and an episode involving his 12 year old son, James, after training one evening. At the start of the day, Andrew had given James a $50 note to purchase his new cricket shirt at training after school. James had guarded the money carefully all through the day and turned up to practice with it safely in his bag. Alas, sometime between padding up for practice and cooling down after training the $50 note had blown away in the wind! James was devastated, both because he couldn’t get his shirt and because he had let his father down.  As you might imagine, a local community cricket club is made up of a range of characters, young and old, quiet and loud, rough and ready. Many of those characters would probably not engage with each other were it not for their common interest in cricket. Nugget, who ran the bar at the club, was not someone that James would normally have much to do with. But as training had wound down and the ‘blokes’ were gathering at the bar, Nugget called them to order. “Listen up!” he said. “Jimmy here (the word ‘James’ would not be in Nugget’s vocabulary!) has lost his pineapple (colloquial for a $50 note) and I reckon you guys can help with that. How about we all chip in to help Jimmy out?”  With that, one of the other players, a tradie, stepped forward with a $50 note and said “Here, let me cover that.”  “No,” said Nugget, “this is a club, we’re all in it together, and this is something we can all share. I’ll take gold coins only.” Within a very short time James had his new cricket shirt and change to take home.

What a great story of community, of affirming what we have in common, the ways in which we are the same! Hearing that story we will resonate with it, get that feeling of warm satisfaction, because we sense that, when the chips are down, we, too, would go in to bat for the disadvantaged, for the underdog, for the helpless. And the good news is that we share that impulse with the great bulk of humanity! It is a function of our common humanity!

We may be tempted to believe the bad press about the world – that it is a lost cause, a place of unbridled violence and terror, a place of exploitation and abuse. And, yes, there is an unacceptable incidence of those things in our world. But beneath it all is a shared hope for peace, a longing for justice and a common practice of compassion that is a function of our shared humanity. This is good news!

David Brooker

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