Donkeys and Eggs

The Good Samaritan. Church-goers or not, most of us have heard this Bible story. The Samaritan, a man of little privilege, helps an injured stranger lying in the ditch while two others of greater privilege pass by.

In discussion with women from my church about the story, I recognized an equally important lesson of The Good Samaritan in addition to doing good. In order to do anything, we first have to get off our donkeys. (Yes, it’s okay to giggle – I’m quite certain this is the genesis of the more off-colorful adage.)  Getting off our donkeys isn’t always easy. And until now, I didn’t realize that it wasn’t easy for the Samaritan either. By getting off his donkey he faced significant risk and inconvenience, especially given the social and political landscape of the day.

I’m convinced we don’t necessarily have an awareness that we’re about to get off our donkeys and do something big – something really big like the Samaritan did. With one small act he started a conversation that created change in the world.

This year I’ve had the privilege of meeting and getting to know a remarkable young woman, Niki Johnson. Niki is a beautifully thoughtful and intelligent artist – she is creating important work that makes you think.

Our paths first crossed as she was looking to purchase condoms – 7,000 of them. When you work at a women’s reproductive health care provider as I do, this isn’t an odd request. What was unusual however, was the use Niki had in mind for the condoms – they were needed to complete a massive project she had undertaken. Niki was in the finishing stages of a piece of artwork. It was to be her response to comments made by the former Pope while travelling through Africa in 2009. During that trip, the Pope suggested that condoms could increase the spread of AIDS.

Niki completed the project, a portrait of Pope Benedict woven with thousands of condoms, entitled Eggs Benedict, just as the Pope was announcing his resignation.

Eggs Benedict

Eggs Benedict

Niki’s Eggs Benedict has created a stir. The media coverage has been extensive on a local, national and international basis. Niki’s work is making an impact.

For me though, the story is bigger than the art piece itself. The story is about Niki’s unbridled bravery. There’s a vast difference between bemoaning Pope Benedict’s comments among friends and getting off your donkey to make a significant and profound statement to the world. Striking out against one of the most revered religious leaders in the world takes guts, courage and conviction. It takes a belief that an individual voice can spark a conversation. Niki’s brave voice has sparked a global conversation.

Despite several generous offers to purchase her artwork at its debut, Niki announced on CNN she is auctioning Eggs Benedict, and donating a portion of the proceeds benefitting AIDS research and advocacy.

That’s the funny thing: when we get off our donkeys and use our voices, whether it be through written, spoken or artistic expression, we can be the brave spark in the world to ignite change and do good. Just like Niki.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jill Lundberg
    Apr 15, 2013 @ 09:43:57

    I heard the story on WPR Friday. I am so glad you know her and helped her create her art! She is an inspiration. I am going to look for ways to get off my donkey today and everyday.



  2. Debby Edwards
    Apr 15, 2013 @ 12:50:54

    Beautifully said Linda. Thank you for being wonderful you!



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