The Earth is as unique as you and I. It has been shaped, scarred, and blessed by all that walk it.
It is sculpted by the waves that crash into its shore, the avalanches that bury its mountains, and the blazing fires that bring down its forests. Our planet has watched and suffered as multiple wars have occurred on its sacred ground and stood by, as species upon species have trampled its surface engraving on it a path of both love and hatred.
Without remorse, our species, in particular, has beaten, blown, and pillaged everything that it holds dear. We have caused extinction, death and irreversible damage usually reserved for video games.
Still, through all of this, it has found room in its heart for compassion, gratitude, humility, and forgiveness. It remains patient, kind, and fills itself with understanding as we learn our way. Its lessons are the sum of countless lifetimes and if we take the time to pay attention, the Earth looks to teach us.
And teach us it will.
But what will it teach us?
It will teach us the exact same thing that we are taught as children, to give more than we receive. We learn this simple lesson many times throughout our lives:
- When we have children
- The moment that we commit ourselves to another
- The first time we hold a door for a stranger
- As children, the precise moment that we share for the first time
- When we pass our wisdom along to those we know
- The charities that we donate to
- As we volunteer for local events
- And more
And if we continue to implement giving rather than receiving, the world will slowly become more than it already is: a sanctity of kindness. The trick is that continuing to implement it is not as easy as it sounds.
“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”
Creating a better world begins with being a better person.
Being a better person is hard work. It takes an understanding of everything the Earth already knows and is trying to show us: compassion, gratitude, humility, forgiveness, patience, kindness, and understanding. It takes will, determination, and a never-say-die attitude. More than any of these, it takes a want to create a better self and therefore a better world.
And we can’t do it by ourselves. It takes a worldwide effort.
This means forgetting who has slighted us, berated us, and caused us harm. It means forgiving anyone who has pushed us down, told us off and thought less of us. Most importantly, it means standing up for a stranger, leading by example and teaching the next generation the real meaning of right vs. wrong.
We are closer than we’ve ever been but I fear that we’re not quite there yet.
Many years ago, at 3:20 am while walking into her apartment, Catherine Genovese was attacked and stabbed by a man. Even though she repeatedly cried and screamed for help, it wasn’t until 3:50 that the police were contacted.
30 minutes after the initial attack.
A phenomenon called the bystander effect might be to blame. The bystander effect shows that we are less likely to help a victim when other people are present. We wrongly assume that someone else will always help those in need. This is why we don’t break up a fight, help a stranger who has fallen, give money to a panhandler, or in Catherine’s case, come to a scream.
Of course, this example is extreme but it can play itself out in all forms.
- The briefcase that a stranger drops that no one picks up
- Not holding a nearly full elevator
- Ignoring the homeless who beg for food
- Someone falls on a crowded sidewalk and no one offers them help up
- While standing in a long line, not offering up the quarter in your pocket when someone is exactly that short at the till
- Not sticking around the scene of an accident if others saw it too
We all do it. The question is if we’re all aware of this phenomenon, why does it continue to happen?
First, the presence of others creates a perception that the responsibility of one can be diffused to all present. This, of course, leads most to take little action because each assumes that someone else will “chip in”.
Second, as humans, we have the innate desire to behave in a socially acceptable way. If a few fail to act, others feel compelled to not act in fear that their actions will be viewed as socially unacceptable. In instances like the one involving Genovese, onlookers looked to each other to decipher what was going on. Because no one was reacting, it sent a message that no one needs to react.
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
By nature, we have selfish tendencies. What we don’t understand is that we can be both selfish and selfless at the same time. The body is designed in such a way that it rewards itself when we do good things. In any of the above instances, the body would release a multitude of chemicals that makes us inherently feel good.
- Oxytocin – The love chemical. This is the one that’s released upon two people embracing or sharing an intimate moment. This chemical is a large part of the mother/child bond that occurs before and after birth. It also happens when we hug, kiss, and see others do the same.
- Serotonin – The pride chemical. Serotonin is released into our bloodstreams the moment that we have done something good or witness something good. This is that warm and fuzzy feeling that we associate with feeling good.
The funny thing is that both of these chemicals are highly contagious.
As humans, when we witness someone doing a good deed for someone or we see someone showing a person any sort of affection, the onlooker also gets a release of Oxytocin and Serotonin. This, of course, in turn, will make the onlooker more likely to do something good.
The body is a clever being and its design makes room for the world to be a better place. However, it can’t do it on its own. It needs our help.
We must also begin to understand patience.
The Earth understands that things take time. It was not sculpted overnight. It took years, decades, centuries, and many millennia to take shape. We must do the same. We cannot simply wake tomorrow and expect that our lives will suddenly be different from where they are now.
“Be grateful for all the obstacles in your life. They have strengthened you as you continue your journey.”
As we grow frustrated that things either aren’t progressing fast enough or that we aren’t where we think we deserve to be, we must remember that all good things take time. Patience, as they say, is a virtue and each of us could use more of it.
Remember, the world in which we share will not change overnight. Neither will your world.
And, as I said, to change both your world and our world involves giving more than receiving.
Peter Baska is quoted as saying, “The universe acts in dynamic reciprocal. Nothing stands still. The flows of our life situation, money, romance, our health, are all mirrors of our flow of energy in harmonious interaction with our field of existence. Our bodies, our minds, our thoughts, are all in constant and dynamic exchange with the forces of the universe. We are able to accelerate/maintain this exchange by giving exactly what it is we wish to receive.”
He goes on to explain that “If you want joy, give joy to others. If you want love, give love; attention, give appreciation. If you seek affluence, seek to help others become materially affluent.”
Two words of caution.
- We cannot simply give for the sake of receiving. The world looks poorly on this. We must give because we truly want to give.
- There mustn’t be an expectation that we will be rewarded for our efforts. Believe me when I tell you that the world has an interesting way of knowing exactly when you will require your giving to be reciprocated.
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Cheers to your success,
Joel a Scott
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