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The Most Important Action There Is

An octogenarian's view of powerful interactions in the world to promote change..

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CONNECT! Develop and maintain relationships. Spend time in nature. Always practice kindness. Seek out the good in every situation. Spend quality time with friends and family. Avoid gossip and criticism. Share with others.

Easy peasy, right? Not so much.

There’s so much in the worlds of politics, education, social intercourse and every level of our complex lives with which to find fault. The truth is, however, that everything we see is our own projection of our inner attitudes. Throughout the history of mankind we have created institutions, societies, churches and so on that reflect our beliefs and predilections. The problem is that we’re not content to “live and let live.” We feel compelled to vilify whatever represents a different point of view than our own.

We live with an inner battle between ego—our overriding need to get what we want when we want it—and the maxim taught since the beginning of time: the Golden Rule. We are repelled by this directive to love one another and yet we want to be loved by those very others. This is the inner conflict that we are destined in this lifetime to resolve.

There is a lovely philosophy in the Zulu communities called Ubuntu. The word means humanity. The expanded philosophical sense of it is the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity. As children we all learned to “be nice” to other kids and to share, even though our parents at times didn’t act so nicely or generous toward others. So, it’s hard during those growing-up years to cultivate true love and kindness within when the world seems to reflect the opposite.

The fact is that changing our inner attitudes and altering our view of the world requires a state of mental gymnastics that we feel reluctant to undertake. It’s hard work. What if our values contradict those of family and friends? It takes courage to take on such a thing.

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But take it on, we must. We are watching the world deteriorate right before our eyes and we want to engage in all sorts of efforts to change it. But really, if we don’t change our own inner attitudes, how can we presume to change what is outside of us? It’s a conundrum that continues to expand in this “modern” world of the 21st century. In actuality, when we refuse to carry out the most basic efforts toward positivity toward our fellow man, we are signing our own death warrant for human civilization.

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