As the recent winter storm Nemo wandered through my region, burying some, doing a fair amount of damage, and pretty much leaving thousands powerless for days, I had a lot of time to think. We have this illusion in the world that somehow if we have more stuff; that if we are more advanced technologically and more “civilized” we are somehow better and more worthy people; somehow more prepared for life. Sitting in my house with no power, thus no heat or even the possibility of hot food, made it sink in just how much of a fallacy this kind of thinking is. There is a significant part of the world who lives in conditions like this because they have no choice in the matter, and they not only carry on, but make it work for them. Yet those of us who live in an advanced world, the “forerunners of civilization”, basically come to a stand still just from a few days of it. Sure some people are better prepared than others, but their lives still basically stop. So what lesson can we learn from this?
Quality of life, or more specifically quality of human life, is not determined by what we own. It is not determined by how many fancy gadgets we have, or where we live. It is plain and simply determined by the attitudes and quality of the people involved. Did we bitch and moan for three plus days until the power came back, and then say “About time?” instead of thanking the hard work that restored it? Or did we try to make the best of an uncomfortable situation and do our hardest to continue to live our lives? This was a fresh reminder for me to not take what I have for granted; that much of what we have we are very fortunate to have, and it in no way makes us more worthy people than someone who struggles to find the next meal. The first key to a more egalitarian, more peaceful world is to accept that we are fundamentally all the same. Our toys and opportunities do NOT make us. It is how we approach life that determines who we are.
Peace and one world is a wonderful idea. It is a very noble and many people aspire to it. But the one thing we ALL need to remember is that the first step to any major change starts with ourselves. Our attitude. Our own lives and immediate environment. How can I expect to change the world when I barely managed to “survive” three days of no power? How can I hope to heal societies when I barely have the wind to shovel my own driveway? How can I teach and demonstrate peaceful ways if I am whining about how horrible a job “THEY” are doing?
My goal remains the same. My grand crazy project will not go away. And I still need all the help I can get; all the help others are willing to give. But I … WE cannot forget the basics. We need to make sure we are the people we need and want to be, before we can take on the world and make it into the world we want. Whether it is a matter of making sure we are as physically healthy as we can be, or making sure our own attitudes are healthy, we need to make sure WE are strong before we can use our strength for others. This may be why so many efforts seem to fail. How can we fix the world if we cannot even fix ourselves?
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