Life Where I Live
and why it needs to change
Your life is busy, if you live in the good old US of A. If you’re not homeless, jobless, addicted, suffering from PTSD, begging for money on the street, wondering where you will sleep, where your next meal will come from, you probably think life, your life, is good. Perhaps it’s so good that you feel guilty. I know you might be working two or even three jobs to make ends meet. You may not see much of your home or family, but you provide food, shelter and clothing. You are not eating haute cuisine, but you are fed. You wear thrift-shop clothes or hand-me-downs, You feel put-upon, embarrassed, yet, you’re protected from the elements. You live in your car. It sucks. Still, you watch the rain come down, striking your car and windows, or snow fall, blanketing our sorry world in white. Be thankful.
Life can get much worse than this. You know those who are better-off look down on you as failures; that’s their term, not the truth. Life is tough and often ugly when living while poor, black, brown, female, foreign, gay, transgender and any other term, status, condition you can name or imagine. Currently, we are ruled by hatred, fear, guilt, misogyny, bigotry, xenophobia, homophobia and all the other short-sighted views which divide us. Indeed, many if not all I just mentioned have felt this all of their lives. They and their parents and grandparents before them. From the outside looking in, now seems worse than ever, since some small progress had been made. I cannot say how this must feel, except to me, only what I perceive.
When we believe, or are indoctrinated, that we are better, worse than others, we fall into a trap we made. While feeling or being labeled inferior or superior, are wrong and have little relation to reality, it is the concept of otherness that I want to address. I wish that we could remember all of our existence, who, what, when and where we have participated. Perhaps, just constituent atoms from star-stuff, or broken down in the ground, to return and feed other life in turn, or even reincarnation. The salient point is memory, what we have done, had done to us, became and how we died and moved on. That’s not the way the cosmos seems to work. Maybe we could be aware, if we paid attention.
I believe we need to change the way we see ourselves. Even if we truly see humanity is all one family, brothers and sisters within, we need to go further and see them as us. I’m not the first to think of existence in this way, it’s been said many times in many places, in ways we have never learned to perceive. I believe it can be found in religious teaching, as well. Though I do not consider myself a Christian, it is how I was raised. That’s me. Many people believe and live better lives through their faith. None of them are the only truth.
I believe all religions are telling different versions of the same story. Our story. I think we need to learn to read the lessons from faith in a different way. I grew up hearing, love thy neighbor as thyself. The “as” carries a lot of weight, depending on whether it is used as a conjunction, preposition or adverb. I think in the above sentence as is being used as an adverb, showing comparison or equivalence. The way it was taught, it acted as a comparison, separating you from the other person. I think it should be read as equivalence, you being equal to or the same as the other person, manifested in different forms.
The example I provided came from Christian liturgy. I think examples which mirror this will be found in other faiths and traditions. I may be wrong, but this how I see it. If I didn’t convince you, so be it. I hope my conclusion speaks to you and, you will share your thoughts and any examples you consider. I would love to hear from you. Until then. PAX.
Peace is Purpose, Nonviolence is Strength, Diversity is Unity, Empathy is Empowerment