Thursday, February 2, 2017

Hope or Gloom–We Thrive and Die Together

Life doesn't make any sense without interdependence. We need each other, and the sooner we learn that, the better for us all. - Erik Erikson

In the progress of personality, first comes a declaration of independence, then a recognition of interdependence. - Henry Van Dyke

The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another, and all involved in one another. - Thomas Merton

After interacting with an almost-30-year colleague, Vin, I wonder if part of the reason society has lost its way is that we have lost sight of our interdependence and our interconnectedness.

When a person intentionally drives without due care and attention, their poor habits and poor results cause our auto insurance to increase to “share the risk”.

When houses are damaged as happened in the Calgary, Alberta flood of 2013 or houses are lost as they were in the terrible fire of Fort McMurray, Alberta in 2016, everyone else’s insurance rates go up to “share the risk” of future events.

When people intentionally abuse their health and occupy a good portion of the healthcare system as a result, it ties up the bandwidth of a system with limited resources and makes it more difficult for people who suffer from accident and disease to gain access to the system.

By the same token ….

When we spread love, comfort and support, it spreads out from us in all directions and inspires / helps people who we may never meet.  People who matter to us may be helped by someone as a result.

In the same way, when we spread hatred and fear, the hatred and fear we spread reaches out and hurts people we may never meet.  People who matter to us may be hurt as a result.

For those of us in the streets serving the homeless, the hungry, the battered, the lost, the downtrodden, the depressed and other people who struggle, people who share hatred and fear mongering create additional effort for us.

It is difficult enough to help all those in society who need help – the challenges are significant.

However, when other people go out of their way to spread more fear and hatred, as Vin was doing today when I challenged his spreading of same, people like me are told, as Vin told me today, that it is none of my business.

However, it is everyone’s business.  We all live in the world that we and others create, for better or for worse.

How we treat others, through the spread of love or hatred, impacts everyone else and how others spread love or hatred eventually comes back to us.  When it comes to spreading hatred and fear, "no raindrop believes it is responsible for the flood".

If that requires a deeper explanation, then ignorance is more wide-spread than we know.

The Bottom Line

How you choose to live spreads from you, through you and around you to everyone else in the world.

How others live comes back to you at some point.

Do you prefer to spread love, comfort and support or fear, hatred and distrust?

What you choose to spread determines what you accept coming back in your direction.

How to you prefer to live?

Do you even care?

Do you care what kind of world your kids experience?

Do you care how your kids perceive you as a role model?

Because if you want the best for you, your kids, your family and your world, then you have to be your best first.

To expect anything else or to be ignorant of ignorance will create the very world that gloomers and doomers love to share.

I for one can’t and don’t accept that.

Can you?

In service and servanthood,


PS I asked Vin to explain to other colleagues how sharing gloom and doom was as valid a contribution to society as serving people in the streets or doing your best to lift people who need help.  I was told that people like him don’t need to answer such questions.

Vin told me last week that it is ok to call people you don't like "morons" and other such things.  I wonder if he would be in a problem solving mood if I called him one.  I wouldn't do that - I don't think smart people can be engaged to solve problems if one insults them first.  Unfortunately, Vin and I have to agree to disagree on this approach.

I hope he or people who matter to him are never hurt by someone else who believes the same things he does.

Interconnectedness, like reality, can’t be avoided or ignored just because we don’t like it or believe it.

The Aftermath

My request of Vin to explain how his views help make the world a better place prompted him to disconnect from me.  This is another sad aspect of our modern world - people who don't have the ability or courage to defend their opinions using facts in a respectful manner.

How do we expect to create a better world for our children if we are unable to do this?

Many people think that they "have won the argument" when they use the childish "talk to the hand", "I'm taking my toys and going home" approach.

Unfortunately the world loses when this approach is used.  Look at the torching of the Berkeley campus the other night when people allegedly promoting freedom of speech and equality for all didn't get their way and couldn't articulate their needs in a calm, respectful manner.

We must do better - the question is do we have the interest and the will to do so, no matter what it takes?

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