10 Things Humanity MUST Learn
by Katherine Phelps
Due to the sheer volume of humanity, we are running up against the faults of our world civilisation at a much faster and more disastrous pace than ever before. These crises will cycle and repeat themselves, until the planet crumbles or we learn a few things.
Governments cannot sufficiently enforce changes to the system to ensure our survival. We cannot wait for some sort of avatar to appear and tell us what to do. Even if we do, their presence can only ever be temporary, and if we can't learn for ourselves how to best preserve our future, their influence will only be temporary as well. It is up to each and every one of us to make a difference.
I know a famous parable about a fruit tree and a tribe of monkeys. So long as all the monkeys have all the fruit they need, it's all right for a few to hoard more than their share from the tree. As soon as any monkey has to go with less than they need, hoarding can no longer be tolerated. All the monkeys have a right to what they need.
People too often mollify their consciences when it comes to economic unfairness by believing they deserve more than others. Deserving or not, everyone has a right to their existence and their existence is inextricably intertwined with everyone else's existence. Someone had to plant the seed that grew the wheat that made the bread that now sits on your table for tonight's supper. That someone has a right to expect their needs will be met, just as they have met your needs.
And what if they have been unable to find work? What if they feel so disempowered they give up on looking? They may have been born into families who because of race, location, lack of education will never find work. These people still think, they still feel, they love their parents and their children just as you do. The phrase, "There but for the grace of God go I" comes to mind. Do not underestimate how much luck has to do with people's ability or inability to survive. Just because circumstances have made them less than they can be, doesn't mean those circumstances can't be changed so it is possible for them to become more than anyone ever expected. Share and give these people an opportunity to contribute.
Treating people as disposable waste, I promise you, will and is backfiring. Treat people as family instead.
The glorious thing about humanity is that we are capable of thinking so many different thoughts and seeing the world in so many different ways. Innovation and creativity are made possible by this rich seething pot of human cognition.
This diversity can help with problem solving, but it can hinder when people are unwilling to cooperate.
People at times choose not to cooperate because the other person is the wrong sort of person: they aren't the right nationality, religion, race, political party, gender, etc. Imagine two people in a sinking boat. Each person has a piece of wood in their hands that if used together will plug the hole which is letting in water. What do you think of the person who says to the other something like, "I would much rather we both die, than help someone who is purple and watches My Little Pony."
People at times choose not to cooperate because they want their ideas alone to be the ones people follow. Our egos are what make it possible for us to see so many possibilities, but they must be mature egos that are able to bend and give according to the needs of the moment. Keep that ego intact in order to provide checks and balances to other people's ideas. Keep it intact for those times that others do see the wisdom in what you are saying. BUT understand that sometimes you have to allow others to lead. The need to move forward even a little is too important not to take wobbling baby steps as a group to see it happen.
A child is in a room with their birthday cake. Their parents leave the child to answer the door, welcoming their friends who have come to share the cake. The child knows they will be getting cake after everyone arrives, but finds the temptation too much and eats all of the cake on the spot.
Another child is told they have to wait before having cake. The child throws a temper tantrum for having their will to eat that cake thwarted. They may then go without cake as punishment.
These are both self-control scenarios: one is impulse control, the other is emotional control. It has been convenient for our culture to erode these skills in adults. Without impulse control people will buy, buy, buy and make other people rich. They will also deplete the planet of resources. Without emotional control people respond to violence with more violence creating a self-destructive spiral of darkness.
We all need the strength of character to step back and select our responses, rather than thoughtlessly acting and reacting in the moment.
This value alone could go a long way toward saving the world.
Respect yourself. Treat your body with respect giving it healthy foods and healthy activities. Treat your feelings with respect. Understand them so you can understand their messages and then better direct them toward appropriate action. Treat your thoughts with respect. Examine your thoughts, compare them with other people's thoughts, change your thoughts, develop your thoughts, treasure your thoughts so they eventually turn into wisdom.
Respect other people. We are on this planet together, sharing in its fate. Respect our similarities. We all think and feel and have families. Respect our differences. If everyone was a builder, who would care for us in the hospitals? Different doesn't mean lesser, it just means different. We need both our similarities and our differences. More than that, we need each other….and fast.
Respect the plants and animals. These beings are forever giving us and one another the things we need to live.
Repect the things we make. In that way we make them with care. We make them so they serve their purpose. We keep them in good repair, so they serve for a long time. Then when the time is right, we find a way to recycle these items so their parts can still be of use.
A balanced diet is one where we eat lots of different types of food. A balanced lifestyle is one where we work, play, rest, interact with friends and family. A balanced perspective is one where we consider many possibilities.
Our media has a tendency to teach us that if a little is good a lot must be better, because that sells more product. But it is a toxic approach to life. People have died from overdoses of vitamin supplements. People have died from extreme sports. People have died from over-work.
Nature itself needs balance to successfully function. Put too many things out of balance and an ecosystem can collapse.
A big part of balance is moderation.
People have used a sense of mortality as an excuse to live decadent indulgent lifestyles. That lifestyle will in itself speed the arrival of death. We should be aiming at meaningful and fulfilling lives. A life well-lived, rich in love and kindness.
Every time we make a significant decision we need to think about whether we are simply reacting in the moment for temporary satisfaction, or are we laying down the building blocks for a better future. Are we taking into account all the people and circumstances involved and doing what will create the most useful AND compassionate outcome.
Gaining perspective requires we have the humility to listen to others and at least consider their perspectives as well.
It is up to all of us to engage in our world. Stay aware of issues. Choose to participate in making a difference. Stay connected with friends, family, and your community. Do something that keeps you in touch with nature, so you will always personally and directly understand why it is invaluable.
Simply shuttling between work and the TV room is an anemic lifestyle that impoverishes everyone. Engagement helps you to be full of life and makes life fuller.
We are responsible for our thoughts, feelings, and actions. Our culture is responsible for the circumstances that influence behaviour. We are integral to what our culture is, does, and can become.
Every time a crime is committed the perpetrator is certainly responsible, but we are all responsible for the poverty, the over-valuing of wealth, and the reliance on violence that helped to make that crime a reality.
Every time we experience the effects of pollution and over-use of natural resources, we are in part responsible. No one forced you to drink out of a plastic disposable bottle. Yes, it was only one bottle, but one bottle plus one bottle plus one billion more and we are in trouble.
The point of personal responsibility is not to feel badly about yourself, but to be challenged to think about consequences and do better. We may not always be perfectly responsible, but as long as we then take action to clean up your own mess and improve, our skills in responsible behaviour improve. Trust me, in the end it does feel good to do the right thing.
We can never know precisely what it is like to be in another's shoes. We can all understand what pain is like, and loneliness. We can also understand laughter and joy. We can look at animals and feel concern when they are clearly experiencing suffering. We can look out at all things and sense a need for security and well-being.
Feeling your connectedness with all living beings will make learning all the other steps to a functioning world that much easier. You will care and in caring be readily motivated to do what it takes to create peace. Yes, you will have to be available to feeling your own pain, but you have to be capable of feeling everything in order to feel love, joy, and passion as well.
Our current culture finds forgiveness difficult to swallow. People want every single infraction against their person punished in some way.
You have people who want to punish their parents, their teachers, their bosses, their co-workers, other students. Daily existence is seen as a series of who is ruining my life now.
People are easily made criminals, then are forever seen as criminals deserving of endless punishment without reprieve. Whatever happened to concepts such as rehabilitation and mercy?
Wars and revolutions flare up and flare up again. One side wins. The other side rises up to exact vengeance for wrongs done to them. One day they win and the whole process repeats itself.
Stop, stop, STOP! Just let it all go. Life is an ongoing journey of forgiveness. Everyday you will have to forgive yourself, forgive others, and forgive fate. Anything less is hell.
None of the ten items is easy, but they will make life easier. It's just a matter of practise. Below is a graphic listing the ten items. Pin the graphic to your desk, to your refrigerator, on the bathroom mirror. Keep them in mind so that you renew your familiarity with them and renew their practise. Please spare a moment to make them a part of your life.
2012 May 03