We’re all in this together

By Scott Westerman

Listen to an audio version of this message.

So many challenges compete for our attention these days that it’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling that something is not a real problem.. until it affects us personally.

Some call this “privilege”. Others argue we have only so much capacity to process, only so much time, talent and treasure to distribute. So we feel we must prioritize that which is close to us.

The danger lies in minimizing painful life experiences we are lucky enough not to have to endure.

There are certain universal ideas that I believe are the essential elements of a peaceful and productive world. We must seek ways to help the less fortunate, to be sensitive to inequality, to find refuge for the displaced, to give knowledge to the ignorant, healing care to the sick, sustenance to the hungry, freedom to love and be loved without conditions, and tolerance of spiritual and political belief as long as those beliefs do not limit the freedoms of others.

History tells us that if we don’t look out for one another, the less fortunate may fall under the spell of destructive demagogues. So step outside of your comfort zone from time to time, and walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.

The rights and freedoms we often take for granted are always under attack. Those which we do not vigilantly preserve, protect and defend may well vanish. There will always be people who want to remake the world to suit their priorities. Have the courage to stand up, be counted, and fight for what you believe in.

But carefully examine those beliefs. Has the confluence of time and comfort closed your mind?

We begin to think differently when it’s our child who has a learning disability, when someone we care about comes out as gay, when we are the one who gets downsized, when it’s our friend who has been made homeless by storms, both environmental and political, when it’s our heart that needs the bypass operation, when it’s our spouse who gets a cancer diagnosis.

It’s only when we begin to realize that the primary reason we were put on this earth is to alleviate the suffering of others, that we can finally become capable of our full potential as human beings.

The most persistent fact of life is that we’re all in it together. Our ability to create that which we need will be in direct proportion to how well we can help others do the same thing.