Have courage for the great sorrows of life, and patience for the small ones. And when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. God is awake. – Victor Hugo
One of the attributes of those who care enough to act is a deep-seated sense of responsibility. I will be the first to say that a sense of responsibility is a good thing.
However, a strong sense of responsibility is often accompanied by the great temptation to bear the entire load of responsibility alone. And there is nothing good or noble about that. It can actually be debilitating.
The old African proverb gets to the heart of the matter. “If you want to go fast, walk alone. If you want to go far, walk together.”
Working together is the path to accomplishing great deeds in any field. Sharing the work lightens our load, and just as importantly, it allows others to contribute. And that’s a good thing.
But, at the end of the day, as Hugo writes, we can go to sleep in peace. The Creator of the entire universe, the God who sustains each of us and the world we call home, is awake.
We do not have to carry the burdens of the work alone. We don’t have to shoulder all the responsibility.
God is awake.
Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can. — John Wesley
This familiar quote by the founder of Methodism never loses its appeal to me. Every time I hear it used or every time I see it quoted again reminds me that we have an unending responsibility “to keep on keeping on.”
What continues to inspire me is that John Wesley didn’t just preach about doing good. He demonstrated the “do all the good you can” philosophy every day of his life. He preached to the poor, visited those in prison, and never ceased crusading for those marginalized by society.
Mr. Wesley would not be popular in today’s United Methodist Church. He would be disgusted by (what would appear to him as) the laziness demonstrated by the majority of today’s clergy. He would find the amount of time we waste as both abhorrent and inexcusable. He simply wouldn’t tolerate the lack of zeal we demonstrate as leaders of the people called Methodists.
He wouldn’t be gentle in instructing us about doing good at all the times we could. He would be quick to administer a solid kick to the seat of our pants with a loving reminder that we are to do all the good we can for as long as we can.
And I am quite sure Mr. Wesley would let us know in no uncertain terms that there is no retiring from doing all the good we can. Wesley was raising funds for the poor in snow and ice less than two weeks before he died. But then, for him, doing good wasn’t a career. It was a calling.
O gracious and and merciful Father, You have graced us with another beautiful day. Thank you for such a precious gift.
Help us truly live alive during this day. Help us see the awesome work of creation with fresh eyes. Help us walk with both wonder and reverence on this planet you created so perfectly.
And help us come to the realization that we have both the power and the responsibility to care for all the beauty with which we are surrounded. Convict us of our wanton misuse of all that we have been given, and empower us afresh to become true caretakers of our world.
Let our love for you overwhelm our greed and need to consume. And let our faithfulness shine forth in the actions we take to demonstrate our reverence for all you have provided to sustain us.
Thank you for all you have given us. Amen
Pardon me for waxing a little philosophical, but the weather, the recent burial of yet another old year, and nice crackling fire in the fireplace all conspire to force some thoughtfulness.
If after all, men cannot always make history have a meaning, they can always act so that their own lives have one.
This quote by the French Nobel Prize winning author, journalist and philosopher, Albert Camus ( 7 November 1913 – 4 January 1960) is one that perfectly fits into my wheelhouse these days. I sometimes have real difficulty in seeing meaning, at least significant meaning, especially in contemporary history.
Camus tells me that’s o.k. I don’t need to fret. I cannot be held responsible for making history have meaning. However, what I can do, and indeed, should do, is to live every day so that my own life has meaning.
I guess I’m satisfied with that. If every one would do that we might even make history have a meaning, and wouldn’t that be a grand thing?
Whether people are beautiful or plain, friendly or cruel, ultimately they are human beings, just like oneself. Like oneself, they want happiness and do not want suffering. Furthermore, their right to overcome suffering and be happy is equal to one’s own. Now, when you recognize that…you automatically feel empathy and closeness for them. Through accustoming your mind to this sense of universal altruism, you develop a feeling of responsibility for others: the wish to help them actively overcome their problems. This wish is not selective; it applies equally to all. – the Dalai Lama
Ending hunger in our lifetime is possible. We all know it is the right thing to do. My prayer is that we recognize that we are all human beings, we are all one family, and we all have a right to life in all its fullness. Once we recognize that, the feeling of responsibility will lead us to do whatever is necessary to make sure each of us has bread.
On the wall in the lobby of the World Bank headquarters are the words of OUR DREAM IS A WORLD FREE OF POVERTY.
If we act now with wisdom and foresight,
if we show courage,
if we think globally and
allocate our resources accordingly,
we can give our children a
more peaceful and equitable world.
One where suffering will be reduced.
Where children everywhere
will have a sense of hope.
This is not just a dream.
It is our responsibility.
A more peaceful and equitable world is possible. A world where suffering is reduced and all children can be free from the pain of hunger is within our grasp.
Achieving such a world is a matter of choice. If we desire such a world we have to be willing to reach for it, work for it, advocate for it, fight for it. We have to live for it.
I think such a world is worth whatever effort it takes to achieve it. Do you?
I am on vacation this week, and for some lighter vacation reading I picked up Willie Nelson’s newest book, Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die: Musings from the Road. I am a huge Willie fan and I am thoroughly enjoying the book. Here is Willie’s views on God:
If we are children of God, then we must be gods too. Very small children must be God also. We were made in His image, duh. Why don’t we know it and act like it? I don’t know, maybe we do know and are afraid to accept the responsibility. If we admit that we are children of God, we can go a long way toward fixing what’s wrong. Maybe that is our reason to be here, end of story.
Don’t know about you, but that sounds good to me. Maybe it’s time more of us accept that we are created in God’s image and begin figuring out how to begin fixing what’s wrong.