KRWG

What Really Matters?

Nov 25, 2018

Credit peter goodman

Commentary:  Thanksgiving. What, other than to be grateful for our lives, would I tell a visiting child. (Such as my marvelous grandson,Teddy.) 

 

Not that he'd listen. At any age I'd have wriggled uncomfortably until allowed to go play.

 

In our time of renewed rancor and tribalism, what would I tell a kid, who's inheriting the horrors of unbridled climate change we caused? (But then, in the late 1940's, what would I have told little Peter, about to face a world where a Holocaust had just occurred, Hiroshima and Nagasazki were toast, and a Communist hid under every bed?) 

 

What really matters?

 

To keep in mind always that others have roughly the same needs and feelings we do. We're part of a family, a community, a nation, humanity, and some greater ecology of animals, plants, and human products that can destroy everything. Whether or not the Christians or the Buddhists are right, karma (that we reap what we sow, one way or another) – and heaven and hell (a more primitive, mechanistic version of that) are helpful ideas. 

 

With or without Santa or God, doing what you think is right feels better, once you've gotten some youthful craziness out of your system – to do what you think is right. Stealing and other misbehavior may tempt you; but they're not worth the consequences, or the nerve-wracking suspense wondering whether or not you'll get caught. 

 

Recognize what you are: an animal, though one with opposable thumbs and consciousness. You'll hear fancy nonsense about not being an animal, but you are one. However, you have the blessing and curse of consciousness. Only we humans produce symphonies, poems, or penicillin. Yet only we humans herd thousands of others of our own kind into enclosures and kill them. 

 

See the world clearly. It has beauty and horrors. People you love will die. You will die. Don't fall into the trap of creating some complex way of denying those realities. Face them. Live honestly and, when the time comes, face death honestly. 

 

Be honest but kind to others. Lying means worrying, and the burden of piling more lies on top of the first. 

 

Be alert for dangers; but expecting the best from people often inspires the best in them. 

 

There are fundamental differences between people, but not based on color or religion. One is between people who never doubted, during childhood, that they were loved – and people who did doubt that, often with good reason. If you're among the former, be grateful for a marvelous emotional head start, and be patient with others not so lucky. If not, maybe life saddled you with a deep insecurity and urges to lunge awkwardly after illusions of security. 

 

Be true to yourself. Parents and teachers have much to offer, but have their own insecurities and misapprehensions. They matured facing a different world, different challenges. Treat what they say like the water in a gold-miner's tin pan: sift it carefully to find the nuggets. Hear the part of the sermon about love and humility, but ignore the divisive part, and illusions that only your group has The Truth. Recognize that we live in a somewhat capitalistic society, but don't conclude that other people and natural resources exist merely for you to manipulate and profit from. 

 

Last, do not take or use more than you need. Enough yields a deeper satisfaction than excess. And helps preserve. 

 

Savor each morsel of life. Be grateful.