While working in the yards today I had my IPod going in my ears, as usual. Work is always a little better with songs that make your heart sing a bit, or your toe tap a bit, or put a bit of a spring in your step.
You know what I mean.
At any rate, I noticed a theme in the songs. By the third one in a row with the same message, I stopped to actually listen and let the words soak in.
Each singer was wistfully searching for a society where we were all kind to each other, where we didn’t harm each other, where everyone was being taken care of by everyone else. But the tone of the music and the melancholy voices made it all seem like a pipe dream – something we all wish for, but know it just can never be.
I stopped right there in the middle of the backyard and asked “Why not?”
Why do we harm each other?
Why aren’t we kind to everyone?
Why don’t we look out for the needs of those around us?
It made me sad to realize that much of the world really asks these questions without an idea of what the answer is. I guess to them it seems like some cosmic imbalance that we just tend to do bad instead of good.
Truthfully, we do tend to do bad rather than good. Bad seems to come more naturally than good (at least for me anyway). The forces of evil are hard at work and never sleep. They scream and yell and bombard and pound away until we are just too tired and it is, in the end, easier to just give in.
We actually need someone to help remind us to do good. Or we need a reason to do good. Or we want the reward that may come from doing good.
But most of us don’t just naturally exude flowers and rainbows and animated woodland creatures that help us to whistle while we work.
Usually we’ll take the broom and smash the heck out of whatever gets in our way.
Yet the songs continue to hope for a day when we will just magically be good to each other.
I’ve wondered for a long time now why people in general search for and seem to demand a heavenly society, but will try every path to get there, except through heaven itself?
We want all the benefits that come from doing what God guides us to do through commandments – no murders or robberies, no adultery, no lying or deceit, good family relations, trusting your neighbors and sharing – but in no way are you to bring up religion, or prayer, or honoring God, and we also want to swear freely and immerse ourselves in adult entertainment, and not have a day where we stop and reflect and study and help each other. We are much too busy and important for that.
Kind of a head scratcher.
We want all the benefits that come from the true practice of religiously obeying our Father in Heaven, without any actual practice of religion whatsoever.
Kind of like trying to find an elusive round and strong object that can roll and easily support the weight of whatever vehicle we need to move. But no one bring up the wheel. It’s off limits.
In HR, we call it trying to solve the problem by only treating the symptoms and ignoring the disease itself. As managers we learned quickly that by ignoring the real issue and just treating the problems that were easier to address, we continued to fight the same problems year after year after year.
But we stood at the end of the day and wiped our foreheads to show all the work and effort we had put in. Everyone should realize that we have done all that is humanly possible.
Besides, to truly get to the real problem may take more effort than we are willing to give, more commitment than we are willing to make, more personal exposure than we are willing to risk.
After all, we know that we are right in our positions and practices. It’s all the others who are messing it up and stopping it from working smoothly. If they would just do it our way.
To paraphrase my mother, “that’s chicken shi-shi.”
The fact is it’s easier to work on all the ways that others are messing it up for us, rather than trying to understand how we may be messing it up for others.
The disease we are faced with is our lack of personal accountability to make ourselves better each day, humbly seeking out help to change not just our actions, but our very natures. When I have changed myself to be a better person, a person who a little more naturally seeks to do good, help others, and not do any harm, then I am attacking the disease itself. The symptoms start to lessen and disappear on their own.
I’m only aware of one thing that will help change my very nature. Kind of like simply embracing the wheel that has already been given to us.
I’m so grateful that my nature can, and does, change. Life is much better now than it used to be. I have every reason to hope that it will be even better tomorrow.
Yet as society at large we keep hacking away at the symptoms – crime, injustice, deceit, power mongering and personal gain, hunger, poor educations, broken families – and find that no matter how fast we try to inoculate the crowds, people are already sick. The shot is coming too late.
I’m not saying that you need to worship in the same way that I do. I wouldn’t want you to tell me that I need to do it your way. Let’s respect each other enough to agree on that.
But to begin a town council meeting I would be thrilled to have us all pause, and look to heaven for help in creating that heavenly society – and take turns doing it as Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and so on.
You know, with respect for each other.
And for Heaven.
After all, isn’t that the kind of society we say we are working toward?