We are all the same

Thomas Hardy, (1) famously, tells us that we are much more similar than we are different. (2) The acknowledgment of this fact has to be the only way in which we will achieve peace and harmony on Earth. However if I believe that human beings are kindred, I am also forced to question what kind of evil occurs inside of me. What would allow my actions of violence to co-exist alongside my desire for love? Yet this reality has been true throughout our history. 

This has to be one of the more troubling aspects of the Second World War, for example. History books, rather conveniently, make this an enormous struggle between the righteous and the morally bankrupt. But, in what way could this possibly be true? In Europe, at the beginning of the 20th century, Germany, arguably, led the world in art, science, music, and philosophy — to name but a few disciplines. (3) Why then, some 45 years later at the close of 1945, were many citizens of the country accused of crimes that would make Genghis Khan (4) pale in comparison — why? 

The answer is not that the German and Austrian peoples were easily attracted to Nazism and all its perils. It is that bigotry, racism, and violence exist in us all. These forces can be released at a moment’s notice in times of crisis or, more easily, in times of fear. Subsequently, as a tender and caring human being, by what manner can I limit or — even better — stop these demonic forces from transpiring in my life? 

I posit that I must learn that I am my own teacher. I am 100% responsible for my morality in the world. How I act and respond to the trauma of life is up to me. Given that this is true, as I believe it to be, I can determine its philosophical outcome. Its physical outcome — whether I will be rich and famous, what my race is, whether I am good-looking, from an exceptional family, etc., is more up to God.  

It is how I respond to the travails of life — given my givens as the Existentialists say — that determines what kind of virtuous man or woman I will become. It is a requisite that I must improve as a moral agent (5) during my lifetime. The concept of having free will to respond to the vagaries of life is well-ingrained in Western thought. (6)   

The acceptance of my similarity with other people will move us toward positive change and a more understanding and caring world. Mahatma Gandhi leaves us with a thought: Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man. 

A closing thought:  I would be naive to believe that I can affect some kind of radical change in the world — I can’t. But, as I have said before, at the beginning of my life adventure, I can set out to improve myself. Croesus, with his vast fortune, was displeased that Solon did not consider him the happiest man in the world. The great lawgiver’s response was that you can only estimate a man’s contentment on his deathbed. It is only then that a person’s life can be judged — undoubtedly good thoughts for us all! (7)  

To sum up: This week, we spoke about our similarities as human beings. 

To be noted: From William Shakespeare (8) — Come what may, time and hour runs through the roughest day. 

Just for fun:  

For reflection: 

This week, on your wonderful walk, please ponder your own moral place in the world. 

Every day look for something magical and beautiful. 

Don’t be a wage slave â€“ critical thinking is great! 

 

Quote: Live the life you want to live! 

Footnotes: 

1) Thomas Hardy

2) The Man He Killed 

3) Raw, brave, wild and honest: why Germany is Europe’s greatest artistic nation 

4) Genghis Khan

5) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sermon_on_the_Mount

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