Monday, August 9, 2010

Life as a Rock in a Lake

I believe that, in the natural state of the world, human beings are intrinsically selfish. We live our lives as a series of expanding rings and pay the greatest attention to the innermost - ourselves, then our immediate family, then our extended family and friends, our neighbours, our community, our world. In the far reaches lie the people and things with which of which we have little experience or knowledge. It’s not that we don’t care - it’s that we haven’t the energy or interest to look into those things and decide whether we care or not.

In the natural order of things, we feed ourselves so we have energy to feed our young, and once our young are fed, we start to think about the greater world, and whether their young have all been fed. And too often, the inner circles consume so much of our lives that we forget that the wider world exists - and understandably so. It’s a poor parent who neglects their own children to care for an old man they’ve never met in Nepal. And let’s remember our basic airline safety training - apply your own air-mask before applying the air-mask of your dependent child, lest you both pass out from being oxygen deprived in a depressurized cabin and all hope is lost. Even though the bag may not inflate, oxygen is flowing through the mask.

Sadness, despair, and frustration occur when we have a chance to observe the larger world, and the mammoth inequities that exist. So much of the world is given to so little of its people. Abject poverty and neglect abound, everywhere. We have too much, and we save so little - of our resources, thoughts, and energy - for the wider circles far away from ourselves.

And while I have a great many issues with most of the many religions that abound, a few very nice themes thread through them all. It’s against human nature, so it never will work - just like abstinence based sex-ed, which has failed to teach teenagers what thousands of years of evolution has not - but think, as monks, rabbis, and preachers have before: wouldn’t the world be a beautiful place if we did things backwards - starting on the outside and working our way in, and feeding the neighbour’s children before our own?