Tuesday, July 16, 2013

It ain't my job!

Some years ago my teacher painted a calligraphy for me that said, “A single drop of rain waters 10,000 pines.” While not literally true, it was a metaphor that spoke to this idea that all it takes is one ray of light to cut through the darkness and open up the possibility that other lights will follow. This morning I came across a similar expression: “Everything was impossible until someone did it.” I like that idea but unfortunately too often many important matters remain impossible because we are waiting for someone else to do it.

Maybe it is just human nature to have this attitude that it ain’t my job and assume that what needs doing is surely being done by somebody else. But is that assumption true? It’s been my experience during a fairly long life that the assumption is broken. The evidence of the fallacy is everywhere around us. I see it with the growing volume of mail asking for donations to help those in need. The lines of people standing in soup kitchens keep growing while wealthy politicians suck the financial life of our nation off for themselves and make decisions to cut off support for the needy. I’ve been seeing it since childhood when I noticed people going to church and listening intently (seemingly) to sermons but then going on with their ordinary lives of selfishness. The earth’s atmosphere keeps getting hotter and hotter and great numbers of people stay in states of denial for the same reason—surely somebody else will solve this problem but frankly I’m too busy with more important matters.

I remember a story from childhood about the little red hen who kept asking for help baking her bread and nobody offered assistance yet when it came time to eat, everyone wanted to share in the eating. Then of course there is the Aesop Fable of the grasshopper and the ants. The grasshopper played away the time of harvest while the ants put food away for the hard times of winter. And then there is the story of a dog in the manger who wouldn’t eat what was offered but sure as heck didn’t want to share what he saw as “his.” Supposedly Aesop lived roughly 2,600 years ago in ancient Greece and the dog in the manger story appeared in both the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas and Gospel of Matthew, so it would appear that human nature hasn’t changed much in a long time.

The point of my post this morning is that our assumptions are more times than not simply delusional. What needs to be done to make our world a habitable and desirable place to live for our selves and our loved ones into the future depends on what we do today because collectively we are creating our tomorrows’ moment by moment. Each day we have the opportunity to create a better world, or a worse one. We make either heaven or hell with a single drop of rain, or not. And contrary to the title of this post, it is my job, because there is nobody but the me’s of this world to do it.
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