The Armor

When are you most free to really meet another person? Buber eloquently speaks of the armor we wear to protect ourselves and soon don’t even realize it is there. Rather than protecting us, the armor blocks us from life’s most precious gifts — to be addressed by another.

"The limits of the possibility of dialogue are the limits of awareness. Each of us is encased in an armour whose task is to ward off signs. Signs happen to us without respite, living means being addressed, we would need only to present ourselves and to perceive. But the risk is too dangerous for us, the soundless thunderings seem to threaten us with annihilation, and from generation to generation we perfect the defence apparatus…Each of us is encased in an armour which we soon, out of familiarity, no longer notice. There are only moments which penetrate it and stir the soul to sensibility. …The signs of address are not something extraordinary, something that steps out of the order of things, they are just what goes on time and again . . . The waves of the aether roar on always, but for most of the time we have turned off our receivers. What occurs to me addresses me. In what occurs to me the world-happening addresses me. Only by sterilizing it, removing the seed of address from it, can I take what occurs to me as a part of the world-happening which does not refer to me" (Buber, 1965, pp. 10-11).

Janet Stauffer