"The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." attributed to Plato

"Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing." attributed to Edmund Burke

Let's between us make the world a better place.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Time for a new era of responsibility?

In his Nobel Lecture, on December 11th 1964, Peace Prize Laureate Martin Luther King reminded us:

 Ultimately a great nation is a compassionate nation. No individual or nation can be great if it does not have a concern for ‘the least of these.’ Deeply etched in the fiber of our religious tradition is the conviction that men are made in the image of God and that they are souls of infinite metaphysical value, the heirs of a legacy of dignity and worth. If we feel this as a profound moral fact, we cannot be content to see men hungry, to see men victimized with starvation and ill health when we have the means to help them. The wealthy nations must go all out to bridge the gulf between the rich minority and the poor majority...

In the final analysis, the rich must not ignore the poor because both rich and poor are tied in a single garment of destiny. All life is interrelated, and all men are interdependent. 

The agony of the poor diminishes the rich, and the salvation of the poor enlarges the rich. We are inevitably our brothers’ keeper because of the interrelated structure of reality”.
Three centuries earlier the Renaissance author and Anglican priest John Donne famously wrote in 1624:

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were. 

Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee”. (1) 
The Apostle Paul, writing in his first epistle to the Corinthians, on human worth, likened the worldwide body of Christians with the human body. All parts of the body are essential for the complete welfare of the whole. In the same way we all need each other and the loss of any part weakens us all: there should be no discord between us. He taught his followers that the members of the church should ‘have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.’ (2) The ‘body’ in this biblical context is translated from the Greek Soma, related to Sozo meaning ‘to heal, preserve, be made whole.’ We are not whole: we are wounded or spiritually impoverished if we are not a part of the greater body of faith in our community. 

We all need to feel that connectedness, that relationship. We need to find unity within the wide diversity of all our individual gifts. We all need each other and we all are special in the eyes of God.

Followers of the Baha’i faith see Earth as one country of which we are all citizens. (3) One of their guiding principles is that ‘the oneness of humanity is the fundamental spiritual and social truth shaping our age.’

Whatever our faith, or none, we can all be guided by these truths.  

In this fraught age, isn’t this our personal responsibility

Adapted from "Healing This Wounded Earth: with Compassion.Spirit and the Power of Hope".


1. John Donne seventeenth century English poet died 1631. Famous words of prose taken from the final lines of his 1624 Meditation 17, from Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions.
2. Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, 1 Corinthians 12. 25, 26.
3. From Baha’u’llah’s Revelation, as he enjoins his followers to develop a sense of world citizenship and a commitment to stewardship of the earth. From Palmer, Martin with Victoria Finlay, Faith in Conservation: New Approaches to Religions and the Environment, The World Bank Washington DC 2003 p. 72.

1 comment:

JAVS said...

This is SO true and well said. The essence of "religion" (binding together again) is that we are all connected and we need to realize and live this reality. Only that can bring peace - internal and external.

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