Sunday, 11 February 2018

Perspective #1: The State Of Things

Most of us here in the UK and the rest of the western world sit reasonably comfortably in our homes thinking of their immediate family and wanting the best for them. But because of that (admittedly) time-consuming occupation, we tend to watch what is happening in the world with some indifference, though we might sometimes be appalled by suffering - particularly through drought and war.

But I feel it is time to express some harsh truths.

Our attention all too often becomes more concerned about whether we can afford a holiday, a new car or build that extension to the house. Or if not worrying about expenditure on that scale,  being overly concerned that our children are supplied with all the things that they believe they are supposed to have by some divine right.

Not all people fit into that description, but a good many do. But even in the west there are quite a number who are genuine 'have nots', and live day-to-day simply trying to make ends meet. And youngsters on that end of the economic spectrum tend to get drawn more into gangs, drugs and crime. More understanding governments try to stem that tendency by funding the provision of better social services, but then other governments decide we can't afford that and withdraw the funding, leaving the deprivation to look after itself. Or claim that the economy will pick up and will pay for these "extras". Meanwhile the rich get immeasurably richer and the poor stay poor.

No, I'm not jealous. I just believe that by living the way we do we are funding even more evil by letting the wealthy do what they do, often by funding drug companies to develop products that are often harmful to us. Meanwhile, they tell us that homoeopathy and Ayurveda and Chinese medicine is all hocus-pocus. Are they?

For those who are in a happier material situation and who do not already reflect and think about themselves in relation to society and the greater world of true reality, I suggest it is time to start getting real about ourselves and to try to take a broader view of our existence, and thus influence the direction which we are taking. Climate change, wars, hunger and pollution seem to be increasing: perhaps we are feeding this situation by the way we live and by letting our leaders take us in a direction we don't really need?

And there's another reason. The way of life that many of us live is just not what was intended. And if we knew what it is that is really intended then I am sure we would tackle life differently.

I will come back onto that theme, but for the time being it is probably sufficient to emphasise that ourselves and our immediate families are not the be-all-and-end-all of everything. All humans breathe, feel and love (and hate), and therefore it is not difficult to understand the thinking of other peoples, even though they may live much more simply than ourselves.

The great messenger we call Jesus told us that there are two laws we should heed. One is to love the Lord our God; the second to love our neighbour as ourselves. I believe our "neighbour" is each and everyone across the planet Earth. I believe we need to reconcile ourselves to all peoples and also the Earth itself, and all other lifeforms.

Thus, in Genesis 1:26 English Standard Version (ESV), it says:
26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
But this is not just Christian teaching. This theme pervades all spiritual teachings.

And, as Albert Einstein once said:
A human being is a part of a whole, called by us ‘universe’, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest... a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.

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