The possibilities for the corruption of our communal experiences are ever present. They are as close as every insecurity we harbor about our chances of “making it “ in the world in which we live. They are as real as every prejudice we cultivate about those we have not taken the time and effort to get to know and understand. They are as alive as every hateful impulse cultivated by those who have allowed fear to overshadow the possibilities of our shared humanity. They are as present as every effort we have refused or ignored to take toward our own development and prosperity. As far as the existence of the threats that keep us awake at night are concerned… we have seen the enemy, and it is in many instances… us.
It has become a function of convenient habit, both for individuals and groups, to point the finger at others in our pursuit of the villains responsible for the corruption of our ever shrinking world. The truth, however, may be more clear if we take a moment to examine the influences that are playing a role in our own cultural formation. Chief among these are the blatant violations of our common humanity that we see daily in a culture of injustice that exploits the superficial differences of our human experience. No matter where we come from, or what color our skins are, or what our gender orientation is; we all hurt when we are shot, or burned, or bombed. We all grieve for loved ones caught in the violence we witness all around us almost daily.
Almost reflexively, we point our fingers at others as the main cause of our grief. It is always easier to identify the causes of the dysfunctions we face and the grief that comes with those dysfunctions in the intentions and behaviors of other individuals, or groups, or nations. The time has come when we must face the uncomfortable truth that there is as much of us in them as there are ...them. In our daily experiences we are not just victims... we are also guilty in so many ways of being perpetrators of the culture of injustice that haunts and corrupts our lives as individuals and as communities. The truth of this is most evident in our closest relationships, in our business practices, in the culture of graft and self-aggrandizement that we indulge in at each others expense. Ultimately our world will get better we we become better as individuals.
Our lives and our mutual prosperity matter, and we must evidence that as a constant function of our every behavior. That is as true for every individual as it must be for every group. While we must be vigilant in securing our humanity against the assaults of others, we have as equal a responsibility to develop our own human potentials by every just means available to us. Beyond this, we must guard against our cultural propensity to inflict the harm on others that we do not want to be the victims of ourselves. The Golden Rule must become and remain the standard that we aspire to in our efforts to create peaceful and prosperous communities.
As members of societies evolving toward a greater operation of Justice, we have a sacred duty to be part of the articulation and institution of laws that embody the universal scope of the ancient code that expresses and protects our claims to a common humanity. There can be no justification, religious or otherwise, for our denial of equal treatment to those we perceive to be different. To do so is antithetical to the nurturing of the greater civility that a truly moral community aspires to.
We have no magic wand with which to wave away the sources of our grief. If we did we might find to our own dismay that we ourselves might disappear after that fateful wave. Beyond the rule of more just laws, our world becomes a better place one life at a time. It begins with the courage, with the determination, with our efforts to be better persons for our own benefit... and for the good of each other.