HUMANIST CORNER December 2017

“Non-violence is the weapon of the strong.”
“We need to be the change we wish to see in the world.”
“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.”
Mahatma Gandhi
It’s that most humanistic time of the year again, when light returns, and for a brief moment even re-birth seems possible. The season casts it’s spell, giving us a sense of that lost innocence of childhood. For a fleeting time the “other” may even seem an integral part of us- then just as quickly fade back into business as usual. The demanding work social Darwinists chalk up to moving our gene pool safely down through the next generation. Sometimes rationalized, paradoxically, as “creative destruction.” The Vietnam era phrase “We had to destroy the city to save it,” still prevalent, comes to mind. Destruction and immorality running more rampant than ever in our own times.
Those who have served their nations and fellow citizens in uniform know well the many faces of the “other.” Whether applied to potential opponents confronting us, or even the presence of comrades on whom we entrust our lives. Particularly painful when the latter are lost or mutilated in the mess that is war. A mess that may linger well after the last shot has been fired. My own lingering ailments and reminders, four horsemen of the Agent Orange apocalypse – kidney, cancer, heart and lung. Yet we left behind to Vietnamese children yet unborn, the hidden scars of poisonous soil and water. Not unlike irradiated ghosts of ordinance and weaponry adrift among the rubble in Middle Eastern lands.
Patterns more familiar than ever. Those who seek power must first create out of anger and fear, those seeds of division with which we ever create the “other.” Buddhists slaughter Muslims. Muslims slaughter other Muslims. Even nominally Christian or secular societies have left huge trails of blood across the pages of history. Still do!
Could it not also be considered harm or violence, to some degree, when Thanksgiving becomes overwhelmed by Black Friday? Christmas becomes the bedrock of a “consumerism” literally ravaging our mother planet? Does this not indicate a desperate need for change far beyond “revolutionary” in nature? Calling for actual “evolutionary” shifts in human behavior? Surely this is the best time of the year to consider such drastic changes? Would it spoil anything?
Even if we don’t start meditating, switch to a vegan diet, quit smoking, or re-cycle more, certainly we must be able to reward ourselves or our planet in some useful way, uniquely our own. So why wait for New Years? If not now, when?
Perhaps the most holy aspect of the season as the sun returns (even that may seem a mixed blessing) is we can now toss off whatever version of “otherism” we carry around. Ever so briefly glance into each other’s souls. See ourselves reflected there! Feel that realization we are all children of just one holy mother. The evolutionary trick? How to hold that thought…
SHALOM