Being human

Bird Droppings May 21, 2010
Being human

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” Mother Teresa

Such a simple opportunity for us as humans and we have been given that with recent events around the world, wars, floods, typhoons, oil spills and even just here at home families losing houses and jobs. We live in a time when we have plenty often so much more than we need and so many are without. I have been watching news stories where entertainers offer a million dollars here and there I am sure Mother Theresa would smile at that but I am also sure that those of us who only have a dollar to give would garner just as big of smile from this great humanitarian in her time.

“Abandon wrongdoing. It can be done. If there were no likelihood, I would not ask you to do it. But since it is possible and since it brings blessing and happiness, I do ask of you: abandon wrongdoing. Cultivate doing good. It can be done. If it brought deprivation and sorrow, I would not ask you to do it. But since it brings blessing and happiness, I do ask of you: cultivate doing good.” Anguttara Nikaya

I was taking photos of new construction at our school many months ago and as I walked out noticed a plowed spot that had been simply a barren piece of ground. It was being cultivated for our Agriculture program. Years ago we moved to a piece of land where over many years nature had reduced the land to patches between kudzu and over growth. We spent the better part of two years clearing debris and scrub. Where there was a few acres of cleared land we had pasture and trees growing. I did allow hedge rows and areas for quail and wildlife. We definitely did not use a clear cut operation as we went. However as we cleared we found old cars, tractors and old buildings covered in kudzu and had them removed. As human beings we need to cultivate our own lives.

“Self-discipline motivated by concern for others: this has been the standard of conduct which I have attempted to reach.” Roger Barnes

Such a simple thought yet so very deep.

“So I vowed to keep myself alive, but only if I would never use me again for just me — each one of us is born of two, and we really belong to each other. I vowed to do my own thinking, instead of trying to accommodate everyone else’ opinion, credo’s and theories. I vowed to apply my inventory of experiences to the solving of problems that affect everyone aboard planet Earth.” Buckminster Fuller

This is a big IF ONLY. What if each of us adhered to Buckminster Fuller’s adage?

“The charities that soothe and heal and bless are scattered at the feet of man like flowers.” William Wordsworth

Often I have used the illustration of translations and perception with a simple word from The New Testament, agape. In Greek agape translates as a supreme love, a love of Gods. Eros, philos and agape are in Greek each differing aspects of love. When translating the bible in the early days of the Church of England the word agape was translated as charity. As I read Wordsworth it struck me is not our highest form of love that which we can show towards another with at no time a desire for return, a totally one way love a giving and in so many ways charity.

“Man is harder than rock and more fragile than an egg.” Yugoslav Proverb

“That in man which cannot be domesticated is not his evil but his goodness.” Antonio Porchia

“Man is the only creature that refuses to be what he is.” Albert Camus

Is it that we are? Is it what we are? Is it why we are that causes the difficulties? I have watched the most callous person cry and an adorable little girl veer into a banshee at the drop of a hat. I have observed human kind in its depravity and in its charity. One day that has stuck with me was walking through the prison ward of a mental hospital back nearly thirty five years ago. There were bold yellow lines separated us from them. But the stares from the inmates went to the marrow of our bones. These were men who had killed raped and pillaged society and were deemed to be far too sick mentally to stand trial or were for some reason sentenced to this place. E of these men started as a fragile baby and at some time each was innocent.

“A human being: an ingenious assembly of portable plumbing.” Christopher Morley

“The universe may have a purpose, but nothing we know suggests that, if so, this purpose has not any similarity to ours.” Bertrand Russell

“Ocean: A body of water occupying two-thirds of a world made for man – who has no gills.” Ambrose Bierce

“Man is harder than iron, stronger than stone and more fragile than a rose.” Turkish Proverb

Pieces of a puzzle thrown in a box jumbled, mixed up, swished around and then scattered about has such a similarity to the human condition. We search and search and slowly unravel and discover each piece each facet and as we slowly regain our understanding. We find we are little more than when we started, if all we are looking for is the destination. If we are looking at the journey than each piece each nuance, each piece has significance, reason and purpose.

“Man is the only kind of varmint sets his own trap, baits it, and then steps in it.” John Steinbeck

We are the varmint, the trap and the bait I find that interesting. Can we change this? Can we escape this inevitable circular motion that is self perpetuating?

“In nature a repulsive caterpillar turns into a lovely butterfly. But with humans it is the other way around: a lovely butterfly turns into a repulsive caterpillar.” Anton Chekhov

As I sit here having pondered and wandered this morning and ending on a riddle of sorts I wonder. I do believe we do escape even though rarely. We can regain that butterfly. We can make our way back and not fall victim to our own bait and trap. We can answer the questions and solve the mysteries if we try. We can walk unimpeded midst the yellow lines and stare back. We can if we choose too. What it takes is if we choose to feed that one instead of waiting to feed a hundred rather than never feeding any at all. If we choose to keep in our thoughts those who need our understanding and giving things change. If we choose to look beyond the caterpillar and see the butterfly in others we see differently. We do have a choice, please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your heart.

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