Finding Our Basic Decency

Bearing Witness

There is so much of injustice and cruelty in our society. It is very difficult for us to take it all in. So we often ignore, close down and numb our hearts. But, if we want to lead a genuine and authentic life, it is important for us to open our hearts and bear witness. However helpless and powerless we may feel, this is the basic humane thing we could do.

Our Basic Decency

Cruelty stems from a hardened and dark heart. Any one who knows peace, joy or love cannot do such an act. The moment we think we are superior than others, our hearts become dark; however arrogant we may act, only misery will follow. For our own sake, we should remove our masks and take a good look at our ugliness as an individual and a society. Our basic decency depends on it.

We all want to be happy and free. Yet most people do not seem to have a simple understanding and decency to allow this basic right to others. Whether it is civil rights, women rights, gay rights, etc... it is never simply recognized and given. It takes a long fight!

Stuck in Our Narrow Mind

As Buddha realized 2600 years ago at the night of his awakening, we are mostly stuck in a narrow and limited world view of our tiny little corner: our race, country, religion, caste, gender, etc. As we are not fully aware of this ignorance, we are equally self-righteous and arrogant. With our ignorance and arrogance, we inflict so much of suffering to ourselves and others.

For our own sake, let us honestly touch our hearts and ask ourselves: How many times we gave our voice to a different side than our own when they were wronged or oppressed? How many times we recognized and acknowledged the wrong and harmful things within our side? This is not about judging anyone... this is not about proving anything to anyone... but just to see through our self-deception, cleaver logic and rationalization... just to see through our masks and recognize our true color!

Receiving the gift of feedback

We all have many biases and blind spots. Often we miss seeing our own issues and problems, our wrong views and opinions, and how our behavior might be insensitive and harmful to ourselves and others. But we do receive feedback in many different ways — directly or indirectly, nicely or not so nicely. In whatever form it may come to us, they are our greatest gifts and offerings to us. But we immediately become defensive and fight back; we have a powerful impulse to resist and justify. Then there is no possibility of any real growth.

We do this as individuals or groups (organization, country, race, religion etc.). Our individual ego or collective ego... it works in the same way, in a very predictable way — ego building and defending at any cost.

In some cases, we have more than enough feedback with so much of blood, deaths and suffering for centuries and even millennia, but they are all simply ignored and justified. Life already has enough suffering... from sickness to death. We do not have to add more suffering to it. Please, let us wake up from our ignorance and arrogance — and sincerely listen.

Courage to Listen

When there is a social problem and unrest, often people do not want to see its deep rooted issues as it shows their own ugliness. It is simply rejected as a trouble, a nuisance and even a threat. So, any force may be used to control and suppress the voices. This is the authoritarian way of trying to achieve peace.

Harmony is an organic whole, which is not possible by harming or suppressing any part of it. If we want true peace and harmony, we should learn to sincerely listen first. Though it takes lot of courage, we should even welcome certain chaos and troubles, as they are revealing our deep rooted issues. Such pain is a necessary part of growth.

Embracing Our Richness

When watching Star Wars movies, have you ever wondered how wonderful it would have been if we actually had many such species as part of our society? When reading about other human species (like Neanderthals, Denisovans, Homo naledi, Homo habilis, etc.), have ever wondered how beautiful and rich our lives would have been with many new dimensions and possibilities, if they were survived and co-existed with us?

We humans are genetically almost same, and in fact more diversity is better for us in every ways. But we foolishly fight among ourselves from our superficial differences. Instead of celebrating our diversity and its richness, we succumb to fear and narrow mindedness. Whether it is culture, language, life style, food, art, music or dance... in every aspect, diversity brings richness to our life, and those who cannot appreciate it are just living in a sense of poverty, ignorance and insecurity.

"When we look at modern man, we have to face the fact...that modern man suffers from a kind of poverty of the spirit, which stands in glaring contrast to his scientific and technological abundance; We've learned to fly the air like birds, we've learned to swim the seas like fish, and yet we haven't learned to walk the Earth as brothers and sisters..." ― Martin Luther King

Our tiny little corner may seem safe and we may continue to live superficially in our narrow and limited world. Or we could wake up from our sleep and open up to a far richer and beautiful world!

——

CK. Kamaraj
03 June 2020