Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of Date, 2002
Diffuse random acts of rage with the strength of kindness
By SUZANNE ELSTON
Simple acts of kindness and courtesy have become precious commodities.
Despite all that we have, we are a society driven by fear.
While it's easy to blame the events of Sept. 11 for this frightening trend, the roots are a decade old. In a world of growing instability where fortunes can be won and lost overnight and access to information technologies makes us open and raw to the world, we build fortresses to insulate ourselves. Like soldiers in a foxhole, we sandbag ourselves with stuff to protect us from our own fear.
In this increasingly desperate environment, simple acts of kindness and courtesy have become precious commodities.
Kindness. If someone cuts in front of us on the highway, we feel anger and rage. But if we extend a common courtesy to someone and let them cut in front of us, we both feel better.
Consider this Chinese parable. A man dies and has an opportunity to visit heaven and hell before he decides where to spend eternity. His guide first takes him to hell, where a sumptuous feast is heaped upon a long table in a beautiful hall.
Despite the bounty of the feast, there is chaos. The only tool available is a fork that is as long the table is wide - too big to reach the mouths of the diners. In their desperation to eat, they are stabbing themselves and each other with the forks.
The man is then taken to heaven, where the layout is the same. But rather than the chaotic scene he has just witnessed, the diners are enjoying the banquet and each other. Confused, he turns to his guide for an explanation. The guide responds, "In hell we feed ourselves; in heaven, we feed each other."
Joanna Macy wrote, "If the world is to be healed through human efforts, I am convinced it will be by ordinary people, people whose love for this life is even greater than their fear."
Fear or healing, aggression or compassion. The choice is ours.
Yes! (a journal of positive futures) is a remarkable magazine that offers hope to a hopeless world. Visit < HREF="http://www.yesmagazine.org">www.yesmagazine.org.
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.