Tag Archives: selfishness

some unbearable things

Some things you must always be unable to bear, Some things you must never stop refusing to bear. Injustice and outrage and dishonor and shame. No matter how young you are or how old you have got. Not for kudos and not for cash, your picture in the paper nor money in the bank, neither. Just refuse to bear them. – William Faulkner

What a different world we could have if more of us took Faulkner’s words to heart. I often find myself in tears over the open and even brazen acceptance of injustice, especially by those who claim to follow the Prince of Peace.

Our love of money and all it can provide, our insatiable desire for more and bigger, has brought us to the place where we turn a blind eye to the evil of those in power and wink at wrong doing on a personal level. We live in a world where there’s no shame, and where honor can no longer be spelled, much less defined.

Our greed and selfishness have even stripped us our ability for outrage. We now are part of a society where outrage over injustice is more unacceptable that the injustice that spawns it.

Over 25,000 of our human family will die of hunger and hunger related caused today. In a world with far more than enough food for everyone of us, we will simply go about our business as usual. Our only outrage will be when we get cut off in traffic, the server get our lunch order wrong, or our our double-expresso latte gets cold.

I honestly do not know how much longer I can bear it.

 

 

our last piece of bread

We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. — Victor Frankl

Heroism comes in many guises. It’s not always the bravery of a soldier giving his life for his comrades or the selfless actions of a firefighter risking her life to save a child from a burning building.

As Frankl so eloquently describes, there are heroes who simply do what they can to comfort others in their time of need. The do whatever they are able to make pain more bearable and offer whatever hope they can bring.

All of us have the freedom to be that hero. All of us can carry hope. We are not asked to give away our last piece of bread. But, as Frankl points out, we all have the freedom to choose our own way.

What will we choose today? Will we turn selfishly inward, or will we choose to care enough to be the bringers of comfort to those in need?

“it’s my onion”

She had been so wicked that in all her life she had done only one good deed — given an onion to a beggar. So she went to hell. As she lay in torment she saw the onion, lowered down from heaven by an angel. She caught hold of it. He began to pull her up. The other damned saw what was happening and caught hold of it too. She was indignant and cried, “Let go — it’s my onion,” and as soon as she said, “My onion,” the stalk broke and she fell back into the flames.” — E. M. Forster in The Hill of Devi

When does the cost of an onion become too high?

Selfishness, selfcenteredness and egocentric behavior all seem more the norm rather than the exception in today’s society.  But that come with a heavy price as illustrated in the quote above.

Life is about love, about relationships, and about sharing. The more we give the more we live. Every opportunity to share is another opportunity to become more alive and to experience even deeper joy.

Me, my, and mine are not large words. Yet, all of them are far heavier than we imagine. We would do well to remember, that the stalk of an onion cannot bear the weight of even one of them.

keep us busy, Lord

O Powerful Father,
Please make me a diligent worker in your Kingdom. Help me not to be lazy or selfish with my time, energy and money. You are a God of action and intervention in the problems and troubles of people. Help us to pattern our lives after your example and become involved in the struggles of our neighbors. Give us the heart to walk into difficult situations, and make a difference for hurting people. And make us fully aware of your presence with us at all times. We know that we are weak and ineffective on our own, Lord, but with your help and power behind us, we can move mountains in your service. Keep us busy in the joyful labors of mercy and justice.  Amen

a prayer taken from For They Shall Be Fed, edited by Ronald J. Sider.

stone age economics

One-third to one-half of humanity are said to go to bed hungry every night. In the Old Stone Age the fraction must have been much smaller. This is the era of hunger unprecedented. Now, in the time of the greatest technical power, is starvation an institution. Reverse another venerable formula: the amount of hunger increases relatively and absolutely with the evolution of culture.
Marshall Sahlins, Stone Age Economics,    

The number of hungry people is actually decreasing. It’s now far less than half and much closer to a third. That’s good news.

But, looking beyond the numbers, what Sahlins is saying is still right, Hunger has become an institution. Allowing 25,000 or so of our human family to suffer and die daily from hunger is the status quo.

What kind of a perverted set of values allows individuals to starve in a world of plenty. That’s a warped evolution; more properly, a de-evolution.

Working together we can end the scourge of hunger forever. No one has to die from lack of food. All we have to do is to live up to the moral values we claim. If we don’t, the legacy we leave our children and grandchildren will be uglier then than it is now, a valueless society of self-absorbed greed.

none are so blind

I have a vision of a world without hunger. And I am committed to ending hunger in our lifetime. Like Gandhi, I know that “this world has enough for every man’s need, but not enough for every man’s greed.”

Meeting the real needs of the poor and hungry simply requires sharing the abundant resources with which we have been so richly blessed. And the amount needed is far less than we might imagine.

A $175 billion a year would easily meet the Millennium Development Goals. That breaks down to less than $250 a year for the 850 million of us that have an above average income (based on the average income of Portugal, the lowest income nation in Europe).

This amount, $175 billion, would allow us to cut the number of poor and hungry in half. Think about it, less than $250 a person could save millions of lives a year and bring even more millions out of the shadow of crushing poverty.

Why don’t we make it happen? Are we too selfish to care? Or is the deeper truth that we are in chains ourselves, too chained by our riches to break free enough to act on behalf of those dying from our refusal to see the truth?

The words of Cyprian, a bishop of Carthage in the third century seem appropriate.

Their property held them in chains…chains which shackled their courage and choked their faith and hampered their judgment and throttled their souls…If they stored up their treasure in heaven, they would not now have an enemy and a thief within their household…They think of themselves as owners, whereas it is they rather who are owned: enslaved as they are to their own property, they are not the masters of their money but its slaves.