Today I’m grateful for the gifts of acknowledgment. Being acknowledged is so vital to our health. From the little things to the more substantial, being seen and heard is healing, fulfilling, completing and restoring. While my sense of self isn’t based or dependent on others, existing in a vacuum is possibly one of the most difficult human conditions.

This is relative of course and there are degrees of difficulty. Recently it has been asked how significant global warming is to someone who can’t feed themselves. I acknowledge the reality of that. This person’s primary objective is to secure food. Yet bringing visibility to their plight, having the world say, “we know about you” betters their condition, comforts their heart and eases their mind. (By the way, decreasing global warming is one way to restore the conditions needed for the fecundity of crops and availability of water. The disenfranchised are the worse off when it comes to climate change.)

The difference is dropping food rations from the air in an impersonal way, compared to sitting with people, hearing their story, meeting their family and having them see the “face” of help and concern.

No matter the circumstances, acknowledgment is a powerful form of love. Be generous in your big or small acknowledgment of family, partners, friends, neighbors, colleagues, coworkers, and even when interacting with strangers.

Sometimes acknowledgment is an act of bravery. It requires one to go against the tide, to stand up for or admit something. Unless there are people willing to take such a risk, individuals, families, nations and the world continues to suffer. Acknowledgment is a powerful change agent.

When we see and hear others, we see and hear ourself. Our stories unite and each becomes enriched. We realize we share humanity and this leads to understanding, which fosters compassion. Acknowledgment is a mirror that eliminates “other.”

Acknowledgment is a way of knowing, not merely a nod or a tip of your hat. It’s connective. It weaves a fabric of knowing which holds and cradles us. It’s a form of selflessness that leaves our individuality intact. Essential life information and meaning are imparted to us when we see and hear others. Our sense of self deepens and expands because acknowledgment jumps over divisions of economic status, race, language, culture, and belief. It even reaches across species.

And there the vacuum fills itself, the isolation ends.

Love consists in this, that two solitudes protect and touch and greet each other.

— Rainer Maria Rilke

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Gifts of Acknowledgment