THE COST OF YOUR HUMANITY: What would you pay to prove your humanity?
AT NOT COST
Nowadays, it seems we all want something for nothing. You want a good friend, but are you willing to be a good friend to another person? You want to be loved, but have you loved first? You want to be understood, but have you attempted to understand others? Who want to be well-received, but have you closed out your heart to others?
We want well-trained, disciplined, good natured and god-fearing children, but are we willing to make the sacrifices that it takes, and to adhere to those godly principles that will equip the next generation to meet the many challenges that they will undoubtedly face? Are we willing to be good examples to them?
If asked, most people would declare their support for peace and unity- in their families, communities, nations and in the world. But how many of us are actively working toward that peace?
No sacrifice. No seeds planting. No tendering of the garden. No fruit. No future.
We want civility in society and in politics, but we want the other guy to start first. We want the government to spend less, but just not on the issues that we support. Everyone holds onto the belief that their issue is the most critical, and that the other citizens should make the sacrifice because their interests and concerns are clearly not as important.
It’s like the driver on a busy intersection on a major highway who runs the red light, and is driving straight towards the other car that has the right of way. For the inevitable collusion to be avoided, the driver who has right of way must be wise, patient and mature. He or she must do the right thing, even as the other driver insists on doing the wrong one. The irresponsible driver is consciously or unconsciously counting on the other driver to be responsible and wait for him or her to pass, to be alert and swerve out of the way, just in the nick of time, to avert a catastrophe.
Even as he or she disregards wisdom, the law, and the safety rules of the road, this reckless driver wants the other drivers to be wise and law-abiding. He hopes they are. He counts on them doing the right thing, or he could be spending the night in the hospital, or worse, dead! He is playing foolish games with not only his life, but with the lives of the other people on the road.
The hypocrisy has thus taken a very dangerous turn. Our thought process seems to run thus: being good, wise, prudent, courteous, patient, friendly, tolerant and forgiving is important. These are great virtues, and I support them. I think they’re invaluable to a peaceful and prosperous family, organization, society and nation, and I am counting on you to faithfully observe and practice them. But just don’t count on me doing the same. I want a pass for myself, even as I maintain that you must perform them. I want a reprieve, but will insist on reprisals for you, should you even so much as fail to perform any of them.
I want to hold you to a higher standard than I hold myself. I want to recommend a system that is admirable, noble and engenders progress- but I will leave the burden of implementation and adherence on you.
I will flee, yet ask you to stay and hold down the fort. I will be a coward yet expect and even demand that you be brave. I will remain a child yet ask you to grow up and be a responsible adult. I will shrink and yet ask you to blossom. I will not plant, but insist that you do, and non-ironically and unabashedly expect to reap the fruits of your untiring labor.
The Columbia Pictures movie 2012 starring John Cusack, Chiwetel Ojiofor, Amanda Peet, Thandie Newton, Danny Glover, Oliver Platt, and Woody Harrelson holds a good example regarding the sublime sacrifice that humans can make for each other.
Remember the scene in the movie, when the gates to the arks had to be opened for all the other people (the non-billionaires and others of less privileged political and socio-economic rank) to come in, even though there was a great risk that the impeding tsunami will hit and drown them all?
Yes, it was very risky, and yes, they came very close to losing the ship and the thousands of souls on board. But therein lays true humanity- willing to risk all, sometimes including your life to save another. This underscores a crucial point: in fighting for your life, I am indirectly fighting for mine, because when I value your life, I value mine. In esteeming you, I esteem myself. All the good that I do for you only reinforces and establishes my own life’s worth. It is really not charity; it is wisdom at its purest. It is the type of brotherhood and humility that elevates us all.
By risking their lives to save the others, the people who were safely ensconced in the ship gave more value to their own lives; they strengthened their own humanity; they reaffirmed and re-consecrated themselves to the human cause. They demonstrated their nobility not just to others, but to themselves- and this is the most important part. It is important not just for others to see us as noble, but it is most important that our spirit, our soul, our very being know and understand that beyond any doubt.
The people in the ships walked away further strengthened in the knowledge that they were indeed honorable men and women who deserved to be alive, and whose civilization was worthy of preservation. They were even more convinced now that it was a good idea to fight for the continuation of the species, because there is indeed some good worthy of note in their specie.
They confirmed for themselves that they weren’t just filthy, treacherous, villainous barbarians; that there was more, better, to them. Don’t you know that this strengthened their hands and minds as they embarked on a new life in the new world? Can’t you just now imagine how good they must have felt within themselves? That for all their flaws, for all their vice, it must have been reassuring to realize that they was lodged deep within them, some beauty after all?
By reaching out to help others, at great personal peril no less, they loudly proclaimed the value of all, particularly of themselves. They had put something of value on the line for the sake of others; they had laid on the line all that they had, all that they were- themselves. And that gesture can’t help but strengthen their own self-worth in the end.
The rescuer and the rescued entered into a new level of partnership, a higher plane of recognition of each other’s intrinsic worth. The rescued thinks: “you valued me enough to put your life on the line to rescue me. How kind and commendable of you!” The rescuer thinks: “My life will be worth nothing if let another life perish without a lifting finger to help. In lifting him, I confirm my own humanity and worth. In seeing his worth, I see mine clearer. In reaching out to lift him, I step up higher, and together, we’ll stand up straighter, grow even stronger and more united and more successful. We become unstoppable. In taking care of him today, I safeguard my tomorrow. In sowing these noble seeds today, I will reap nobler fruits tomorrow”. Consequently, both the rescued and the rescuer, both the individual and the group are elevated, fortified and bolstered for an even more magnificent future. And what could be better than that?
It costs something to help our fellow human beings. It is that cost that makes our actions noble- the fact that we would give up something of worth for our fellow man; that we would subordinate our own interest to that of others- this sacrifice undergirds any properly functioning unit of society. And this sacrifice, like any worthy of being called such, is laudable and will yield great harvest to us all. May we all sow well, so we’ll not only reap well, but that our harvest will be something praiseworthy of bequeathing to our children. May God strengthen and bless us all.