(Information for this essay comes from the following sources: the essay “Self Reliance” by Ralph Waldo Emerson; books “Love” by Dr. Leo Buscaglia, “Can We Be Good Without God?” by Dr. Robert Buckman, “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron with Mark Bryan and “The Spirituality of Gentleness” by Judith C. Lechman)
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We each want a better life. And what helps us achievement such a state are our sense of values –principles or set of beliefs that guide us, direct us, gives us a moral compass. It’s what makes our lives better, more tolerable. They make us wiser. It’s what makes life worth living.
Here is a partial list of values that I have learned over the years.
The Golden Rule. Each religion has its own interpretation. In its rawest form, it states “treat others as you like to be treated.” We all want to be recipients of the Golden Rule. How many are willing to practice it?
Even the humanists – atheists, agnostics, etc., have their own.
According to the book “Can We Good Without God” by Dr. Robert Buckman, one of the core beliefs of the humanists is “individuals who are aware of the consequences of their actions, on other individuals, on the community, on the species are likely to behave in a more considerate, more reasonable and more ethnical way.”
According Dr. Buckman, under the Golden Rule, you project your “own’ expectations onto the other person. If, on the other hand, you are guided by the principle of consideration of consequences, then you will try to anticipate the resulting effect on the other person.
Whether the Golden Rule is from a religious faith or the humanist side, it means nothing unless put into practice.
We learn more through suffering. As a matter of fact, we learn very little (if anything) when we prosper. We only question, soul search when we are hurting.
The late Swiss psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler Ross once wrote “the most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
Life can be unfair. It’s nice to believe that the bad will be punished or the good will be rewarded. Unfortunately, this is our compulsion for happy endings. As Rabbi Harold Kushner is fondly of quoting: “just because you are a vegetarian, doesn’t mean the bull won’t attack.”We should ask ourselves what pain and suffering have we inflicted on others by doing nothing.
Life kills us unless we make something of our own.
There is a part of us that needs to be recognized, that we need to make a difference. We need purpose, a calling, a mission. And there is no better way than living for others in the service of others.
There can be no peace in becoming. We are constantly evolving; we develop. We don’t remain stagnant. If we are not being challenged, we are dying a slow death. And the road of life is always under construction. What we are today, we will not be the same tomorrow.
No matter what path we follow, there will be setbacks, heartaches, difficulties. Therefore, it is important we go where our heart is at. We may not succeed but if we don’t try, it will destroy us.
Comedian George Burns once said that he would rather fail at something he loved than succeed at something he hated.
To become our true self will be our greatest achievement. There will be those who think that they will know what is best for us. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote “the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.”
There will be those who will try to mold us into their vision. This is more of fear on their part. Threatened that we are trying to make something out of our lives. A true mature mind will encourage us, not put us down.
In pursuit of our goals, we will be misunderstood. All great men were misunderstood. Wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson. “Pythagoras was misunderstood. And Socrates and Jesus and Luther and Copernicus and Galileo and Newton and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.”
And Albert Einstein once said “brilliant minds face violent opposition from mediocre minds.”
Anger is an important emotion, even for our survival…….And is often misunderstood.
In our angry moments, we are told to turn the other cheek. We are told to suppress them.
Our anger is meant to be listened to. It is important that we express our anger verbally but in a mature way. To express our anger in a “mad like state” can be hard on our hearts. But unexpressed anger can be just as detrimental to our health. We must find the fine line between becoming too angry and not expressing our anger.
And according to the Bible, all anger is not a violation of God’s commandments “as long as we don’t sin.” (Ephesians 4:26)
But anger is NOT meant to be acted out.
Anger tells us something is wrong – an injustice, an unfairness, a wound.
Anger directs us that something needs to be corrected. And as Julia Cameron wrote in “The Artist’s Way” “anger points the direction. We are meant to use anger as fuel to take the actions we need to move where anger points us.”
Seek out and learn wisdom. It makes us more mature. It makes us wiser. We simply can not get enough. He who gets wisdom loves his soul; he who cherishes understanding, prospers. (Proverbs 19:8)
Love is an action verb, never passive. It means getting involved in other peoples’ welfare. Have a real concern for them. It’s what makes life worth living. As Taoism’s interpretation of the Golden Rule states: treat your neighbour’s gain as your gain; your neighbour’s loss as your loss.
If we do not love, the only person we will be holding is our self. And in the words of Dr.Leo Buscaglia, man has no choice but to love. For when he does not, he finds his alternatives lie in loneliness, destruction and despair.”
Ken works as a security guard. He’s a struggling writer of sketch comedy and pieces on spiritual issues. He wants to set up a non- profit comedy troupe for the community, entertaining in hospitals, drop-in centres, etc. He has established a troupe for psychiatric and physically-challenged communities to participate in. He is also interested in the plight of psychiatric patients and other poverty-related issues. Ken can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org