We are going to conduct a test or experiment this morning. Don’t worry, there will not be a written quiz on it later and I promise it will not be a question on the Final Exam. This is for your own evaluation of who you are and how we all fit together or don’t fit together. There is something to be said for both. We do have to get along to some degree but we all have an urge to march to our own drummer too on occasion. How dull if we all marched in lockstep throughout our entire lives. Maybe this exercise will reveal something about yourself and if that is all it achieves then it has served a useful purpose.
We are going to play a game of pretend–a pretend tragedy. Imagine someplace in the world very far away, remote and where you have no connection other than the fact that you and the people there inhabit the same planet. Now imagine that they are not “friendly”. You are free to define unfriendly as you wish. These people are about 500,000,000 in number out of the world population of almost 7 billion at the moment. One pretend day they all simply disappear due to whatever pretend tragedy you can conjure up. How would you feel about so many deaths at once like that and how would that event affect your life? Remember this is far away. You don’t know any of them other than as images on the flat screen.
Would you cancel your golf game for the weekend? Feel so sad you couldn’t go to work? Not celebrate your child’s 5th birthday party scheduled for the next day? Even those who are very socially conscious and active in all sorts of save the world efforts would have to react one way or the other. You know the types– the ones you seeing crying when some newt is threatened with extinction on a small tributary of a river. Would they not go to Starbucks and order their latte and New York Times? After a week had passed would you even remember that it had occurred?
Remember you are not being graded on this. Your response is just that–yours. You don’t have to justify it to anyone. All you are required to do is be honest. If you can’t be honest with yourself then all is lost.
One more twist to the scenario will wrap it up. Since these people were “unfriendly” as you defined that term (some of you might think of right wing Christian Evangelicals as unfriendly–it is yours to define), now imagine that there is a button on your desk right there. No one knows it exists but you. This tragic event (or is it tragic) will only happen if you push the button. Will you push the button? Remember the scene in the old Jack Lemmon movie with Virna Lisi–“How to Murder Your Wife” where his lawyer defending him at the trial drew a chalk mark on the rail in front of the jury. Then the lawyer asked them if they pushed the button their spouse would disappear and no one would know and would they do it. There would be no consequences to you other than whatever emotional reaction if any you had to the event. One small touch and “they” are gone.
If you played along with this pretend game honestly with yourself you should have learned something about yourself. Maybe you even reflected on how others might react. Whatever your view it is revealing about human nature. We have our dark side and also our caring and courageous side. Often they exist side by side in that titanic struggle of human evolution or devolution if that is our fate through ignorance and our own bad choices.
Stand tall. My mom used to tell me that all the time when I was young. Those two words do convey a plethora of value. It is certainly more than just about good posture.
As always I enjoy intelligent conversation and even debate. Thanks for listening.