Mankind is flawed. We have the tendency to exploit the less-powerful for our own gain, we tend to rule the weak, we tend to abuse those less powerful than us, and we tend to make mistakes even when we know it’s a mistake. That’s us – crooked and flawed.
I know what you’re saying: “Not everyone is that way!” I agree and disagree. Not everyone is that way all of the time (or maybe even most of the time); however we have all fallen short when it comes to perfection/morality. I’m not religious, but one thing that I have always found true about Christianity is what the preacher at the church I used to attend would say every Sunday “We have all fallen short of the perfection demanded of us by God.” If there is a truth in religion that is it.
The good news is we have a lot of good in us too. I can only examine myself, but I know internally I have a strong urge to do what’s right and to make the world a better place. I’m not sure why – either. Perhaps it’s out of my own need for self preservation or some instinct for the preservation of the species – maybe something else. I have to believe that we all have that in us; though some have become more adapt in ignoring that feeling than others.
But maybe that is the first step for all of us. Realizing that we all have this duality of good and evil in us. That we all live and walk a different path with factors affecting our personalities and decisions that another person probably couldn’t even imagine or come close to understanding. That shapes who we are. Those facts can also help us understand and deal with everyone else.
Maybe armed with new information and new understanding we can set new rules for ourselves and society. One where we understand and empathize with those who aren’t there yet. A society where we can do the right thing even when it’s hard because ultimately we understand that it’s the right thing to do. Maybe this is just the beginning of social responsibility and recovery of a flawed species capable of so much creation and destruction.
Maybe we can reconcile our needs for self preservation and perpetuity of the species until those two influences come in perfect harmony. The problems of war and famine from yesterday will become lessons we teach our children in the future. Maybe borders will seem silly in the future. Why we value an American, Canadian, African, Muslim, or Christian life more or less than any other will seem absurd - maybe it already does.
I see a younger generation, some of us, already headed there. Others I see as devout as ever toward a cause no more just or moral as the very “enemies” they so passionately hate. Maybe its a man living in a mansion while somewhere else a child dies or maybe its an art student trying to make the “big time” in music while forgetting, even for a moment, there are people out there starving. We’ve all been guilty of ignoring our fellow humans, especially me, so how do we get past that? I do not know.
What I do know is that until we can get the little things right – we aren’t even close. Until we can get involved in our own back yards, all of us, and do what’s right – that hopeful light of helping those somewhere else seems very dim. Do I expect a Utopian society? Of course not. I’m not that foolish.
I do know that we can all do better though. Maybe that means helping out your Mom who has been trapped in the house for years wasting away. Maybe that means donating a little time to charity. Maybe that means cleaning up your neighborhood when no one else will. Maybe it even means doing something big, because you can, and change everything.
Just do what’s right. Not with words, but by example.