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Sunday, October 7, 2012

This isn't really my life...

We are often exposed to news stories reporting on the deaths of motorists, people still dying in places far away as a result of war, natural disasters or the injustices of poverty and intolerance. But, does hearing these accounts day and night, stir us in any way? Or have we become so used to these stories that we don’t perhaps stop and reflect that, behind these victims, there are real people? People who are suffering or even dying? While the killings still happening in Syria are cause for concern, many other people this minute are dying out of unnatural acts of our human failure to love and respect each other as equals.

So, we have the rich and the poor, the so-called ‘developing’ and the ‘developed’ worlds. There are the fit and the unfit. Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Jews, Buddhists, Sikhs and many other religious traditions. There are secularists, humanists, and atheists. But, if I think about it, all these categories are created by us. Yes, all of us continue reinforcing these differences, often without knowing. We want to belong to a group in society that we feel is more like us. It’s irrelevant whether we identify as criminals, drug dealers, practicing believers, or convinced atheists. If we are given the opportunity to express our feelings, we tend to like those like us.

But, then again, can we really claim that our lives are ‘ours’? Many would claim this is a fact. Our life is our life and nobody has the right to impose anything on us against our will. In this, I wholeheartedly agree. The problem is when we lay claim to all our achievements and to our current position. The illusion manifests itself when we believe, without question, that our bodies belong to us, almost as if they were an object or property we have. With that I would have a problem. For, in truth, if you aren’t careful, you might run off with the impression that you can make it on your own on this Earth. In its extreme form, such a delusion may lead us to neglect our bodies or, worse still, harm others because they become simply possessions and objects to manipulate like any other utensil.

There are a couple of questions I will put out there. I won’t answer them or presume to know the answers to any of them. And, once you start reading, you will quickly realise the answers are pretty straight forward. I will, however add a short comment at the end of each question for further reflection.

Did you choose to be born?

Who brought you to the world?

Have you created the society, the culture, the science, the structure and the world you are now living in?

Have you created the planet Earth and all the living beings that populate it?

Have you created the Earth itself, the planets in the solar system and the Sun?

Have you created this galaxy, this universe and the cosmos beyond?

Have you created the stars and the matter forming the basis of material reality?

Have you sparked off all of this and can truly claim that this life, which spans for an infinitesimal stretch of time your own making?

Of course, we remain responsible for our own thoughts and actions to a point. And, even there, we are always limited as human beings. We still need many others to make it through the day. We need other living beings to survive on this planet. Starting from what we think insignificant such as flies and bees to those we deem beautiful and worth preserving. Yet, if you think about it, all beings contribute in their own ways to the welfare of the planet. Even if it may be yet unknown to us.

Unfortunately, the human species is perhaps the only animal who has actively exploited nature for its own ends. The only ‘self-aware[ being that still assumes that everything will go on as before in spite of the impact of waste, pollution, deforestation, nuclear disasters and so much more.

But, wait, I am a human being too! My life depends o so many people, so many living beings, the Earth and the stars that populate it. I cannot keep detached from all that is happening. Like you and the rest of humanity, my life depends on others. To what extent, I and others, are committed to preserving our Earth. To how far we are prepared to put our differences and desires to control and gain power for the welfare of all human beings. Indeed, our life, our bodies and even our thoughts are not exclusively our own. They are constantly shaped and sustained by the Earth. Even the very atoms and molecular structures that form our bodies originated in the beginning of the universe.

Indeed, as I ponder on the ending of another day. As another night falls beckons. I look around me with a sense of gratitude. As I look at the night sky with my feeble eyes, I ask myself…

Are we all sons and daughters of the stars?

Made of the same stuff.

Matter that will not last forever.

What exists beyond that is a matter of speculation and personal faith.

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