This short little lesson is important because it touches on many things that are essential to growth. Responsibility, awareness, courage, and more. What is it? Connectedness.
Stop for a moment and take a look at your body. When you reach out with your hand to pick up a glass, does your foot compete with your hands? Do your lungs compete with your eyes? No, your whole body cooperates with your intention, and you pick up the glass, smoothly and with little effort.
To begin real growth, we need to look at a much bigger picture than ourselves. We are all here, on the mudball that is the 3rd rock from the sun. If we look at the earth as a body like our own, we can see ourselves as cells that make up that body. Everything we do connects to everything else that happens on this planet. We can either contribute to the health of this body, or we can be cancers within it. When we deal with others in a patient, caring, even loving manner, we are fostering healing for the whole body. When we act selfishly, spitefully, or in a way that ignores the needs of the rest of the body to put our own survival first, we are cancers.
There is an old saying, “What goes around, comes around.” A short while back, a dear friend sent me an email, asking me to sign a petition in favor of a state law that was being proposed for the purpose of protecting animals against abuse. A particular incident was cited of a small dog that had been horribly beaten, and then dumped in a garbage dumpster and left for dead. Except that the dog was found, taken to a vet, and given care.
The originators of the petition were rightfully upset by the actions of the individual who beat and abandoned the dog. However, I wrote back to my friend to explain that I would not be signing the petition. As I stated then, I felt that these types of laws only served to elevate animals above people in the observable levels of importance, which is just as wrong as the abuse. Instead, I choose to look at the long-term view of the situation in terms of “what goes around, comes around.” The individual who beat and abandoned that dog was almost certainly a person who’s life was filled with darkness, ugliness, and negative acts. Something as severe as what happened to the dog was almost guaranteed to be a reflection of how the person was living his own life. What types of friends would such a person have? It’s not likely that they would be people you and I would consider to be trustworthy, or friendship material. Would you be a friend to such a person? It’s not likely.
Such a person would find himself/herself surrounded by people who are prone to the same types of violence as what the dog received. Assuming it was a man, he would find himself BY NECESSITY ever watchful against violence, theft, and other ugliness. It would be what he would expect of his peers, because it’s what he can see in himself. And, because it’s what he expects of the world, it is what he will receive from it. God’s justice is far more specific to a situation than anything we can pass into legislation, and far more divine than our pea-brains can envision.
Yet, continuing to look at the lesson of connectedness, I’m reminded of a story I read quite a long time ago. It’s about a boy who was on his way home, had some peers rush by and (perhaps accidently, probably not) knocked his school books out of his hands. As the others kept running by, laughing and carrying on, he knelt to begin picking them up, when a guy who he recognized as being one of the “it” crowd stopped to help him. They walked to the first boy’s house, and the “it” boy shared his opinion that the others were just idiots, and invited the offended boy to join him with friends for lunch the next school day.
The offended boy was quickly accepted by the “it” boy’s friends, the “it” boy became his best friend, and the first boy went on to become very active in the school’s extra-curricular activities. Always a good student, he blossomed and graduated at the top of his class, so naturally he had to give a speech at graduation.
Instead of the usual commencement speech, he told this story. Except there was one other element he added back into the story that, until that day, nobody had ever known. The day he had his books knocked out of his hands, he had cleaned out his school locker. He was on his way home to commit suicide. The act of kindness and friendship of the boy who became his best friend stopped him from acting on that intention.
We never know what our actions will cause in the ripple of time. But, we can know whether we are sowing seeds of kindness and acceptance, or bitterness and hate. Choosing to fill our world with acts of kindness will, undoubtedly, cause abundant harvests of peace, love, and joy in the world around us.