Consider the implications of these truisms:
- We must take care of ourselves before we can take care of others.
- Charity begins at home.
- No man is an island.
Together these truisms exemplify one approach toward living our best life possible. They tell us we must each nurture our own physical and mental health before we are capable of caring for another. Then we must meet our responsibilities to those closest to us- our families and communities- to the best of our ability. Furthermore, we should do so while recognizing and relying upon our interdependence with one another. Many of us prioritize our personal lives in this way, and we often apply the same truisms to any large body of people with whom we form an allegiance as well. For example, we may put the needs of our own country above the needs of other nations.
While these truisms direct us toward a conscientious life path, they presume of course that we will be alive to make life choices. They take for granted our survival as a species is assured. It is NOT assured. We must never ignore the fragility of our existence on this earth. Therefore it is imperative for us to see the bigger picture. We are each but ONE person living on Earth among 7.4 billion others who share the same needs, the same aspirations. We are completely interdependent- not only with each other, but also with the planet we call home. Therefore we must align our priorities to match the realities of our life on Earth. I believe three CO-EQUAL PRIORITIES must top our list if we hope to survive:
A. PLANET HEALTH: Gone are the days when we, as a much smaller number of human beings, could avail ourselves of the earth’s resources without much concern. Now, given the enormous growth in our population, we cannot deny our presence here affects the health of our planet, its ecosystem and atmosphere. It is essential for each of us to respect and nurture our environment. We are responsible for taking care of the only home we are likely to inhabit.
B. HUMAN RIGHTS: In 1945 after World War II ended, the United Nations was formed. Then on 12/12/1948, those countries signed a Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Preamble begins:
“Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. . . ” [Full text available on the United Nations website. There are currently 193 member nations.]
Try to imagine living in a world without our co-operation to maintain human rights. I doubt many of us would care to live in such a world. Our humanity must be cherished by all, for all. We can only hope to enjoy human rights if we are willing to protect them for everyone.
C. PEACEFUL COEXISTENCE: During the 20th century, we created the means to annihilate humankind. Before then, our ability to kill each other was limited to mere thousands at a time. During the 21st century it is incumbent upon us to demand of ourselves that we create peaceful solutions to our differences. War must not simply be the “last option,” it must be eradicated from our mindset altogether. The alternative is obvious, inevitable. [Please read my blogs on this subject: A Rose. . . and War by Any Other Name Still Stinks of Fear and Death; Fighting Words: Our Misguided Constructs.]
We have heard a great deal lately about putting “America First.” Our allegiance and commitment to our great country is honorable and commendable. Yet our first priority must always be to humanity and its survival. Our allegiances should and can be balanced within the larger reality. Our innate goodness and humanitarianism- the holiness in our humanity- will guide us.