From my journal: March 2, 2012

I think a lot about the difference between the way the world is and the way we humans think it should be. We all – mostly – agree about how it should be: people should treat others the way they want to be treated. But the reality is very different. And we all have expectations of one another that are not always right or fair or just. Sometimes the way we want people to treat us is as if we were the center of the universe, and that just won’t work. Or as if our needs are more important than theirs, and that just won’t work.

I lived a good bit of my life with the belief that everyone else’s needs were more important than mine, and the reality is that mine are just as important as yours. The truth is that to have a peaceful and fulfilling society, we need to help those who cannot help themselves, but we also need to help ourselves whenever and wherever we can. It’s a dynamic tension between doing for someone and letting them succeed or fail on their own. We cripple our children by doing too much for them as surely as we cripple them by doing too little.

After 6000 years of human history, you’d think that the “real” answer would have emerged by now; the one that will put an end to the problems that plague humanity. Christianity – the religion I was raised in – claims to have those answers, but it doesn’t. Islam claims it, Judaism claims it, atheism claims it – but the evidence says none of them have it. If the past is any indication, there is never going to be a golden age of humanity where the answers all become clear to us. We are going to go on and on, fighting, loving, losing, winning, living and dying until we extinguish ourselves or the sun goes supernova. Until that time, the best we can do is treat others the way we want to be treated, and to carry our own burdens if we are able.

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