Previously published in the Huffington Post as ‘It’s Not Too Late To Heal The World”:
‘Survival of the fittest’
That’s the best way to describe life in the jungle, with animals doing whatever they need in order to stay alive. Apart from some unique mammals, morals are practically non existent in the wild because it’s a ‘kill or be killed’ environment.
I often think human society in the Western World is becoming more like the jungle every single day.
I’ve witnessed how the world we live in has changed in the last 25-30 years, and I don’t believe the direction we are heading is the right one.
Too many human beings have become impatient, hardened and ruthless. Our society has become self centred with so many individuals solely focussed on their own mission, figuratively running over anyone who obstructs their path.
I have no doubt that there is still plenty of good left in humanity, but it’s simply not as prominent as it used to be.
When I was growing up people were significantly more polite, respectful and caring towards one another. On the roads it was common for someone to show appreciation if you pulled to the side of a narrow street to let them get through. To get a ‘thank you’ on the roads is extremely rare now. In those days, you’d get a knock on your front door if someone walking by noticed you’d left your car lights on by accident. Back then kids had the awareness to stand up and give their seat to an elderly person on public transport.
I know these gestures still exist, but they have become the exception when they used to be the rule. Collectively, the human race has strayed and our good will seems to diminish as each year goes by.
How do we get back on the right path?
In Judaism there is a phrase known as ‘Tikkun Olam’ – which literally means healing or repairing a fractured world. The phrase is found in a book called ‘The Mishnah‘ and indicates that a practice should be followed not because it is required by Biblical law, but because it helps avoid social disharmony.
I bring this up because I believe our world needs healing. As human beings, we are born with the capacity to do so much good, and help each other. If every human being made it his or her duty to try do one good deed each day, can you imagine how much more pleasant our earth would be?
So how can we heal our fractured world?
I believe it starts by removing yourself from the ‘centre of the universe’. The world is bigger than each one of us, and this earth does not exist for our individual benefits. Once we collectively realise that the world is more important than our personal trials and tribulations, we can become capable of contributing to the greater good.
If we are in a financial position to donate money to charity, then we should – but it doesn’t start and end there. To make this place better, it’s going to take more than money. If you see someone struggling physically or emotionally, try reach out and help them. In all likelihood you will require help one day too, and that is when the kindness of others will become essential.
For whatever reason many people often assume that because things are going well at a certain period in time, this will be the case forever. The reality is our fortunes can change in an instant.
Another thing we can do is not take what we have for granted. For every meal you eat, and every night you sleep in a bed with a roof over your head, know that there are millions out there who aren’t as fortunate. We must be thankful for what we have in life.
So why not start now?
Thank the person that lets you in on the highway, help an elderly person carry their groceries, be present for your friends if they are struggling, and try not get so used to something – that you forget to be grateful for it.
We don’t need to subscribe to a ‘Dog-eat-dog’ mentality. We can still survive and thrive without trampling on others.
The cynics will read this piece and say that I’m preaching. That is not my intention – this is simply a hopeful plea that if you read this, you think about helping your fellow man and be OK with putting yourself second some times.
Surely if we all gave just a little bit more and showed empathy and compassion to those around us – our world would be a better place.