August 11, 2021
The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that’s the essence of inhumanity.
George Bernard Shaw
Ray’s Daily first published on August 8, 2005
“My property taxes are too high,” “My boss is a jerk,” “It is too damn hot,” “Gasoline cost’s way too much,” “Somebody is getting more than their fair share, medical costs are way too high,” we hear these kind of complaints every day, I know I have made many myself. Fortunately we are in a country where we can complain without consequence other than the fact that others walk away when we become to much of a pain. In a democracy we have a right to our opinions and are expected to express them at the ballot box.
Too many others either don’t have the opportunity to complain or really have things to complain about. Last week I had the good fortune to be invited to join a small group to meet and listen to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. She is the leading candidate for the presidency of Liberia. She has watched her country go through years of civil war, governments that where led by corrupt dictatorships, and a deteriorating society. She had to go into exile as it became too hostile for her to stay home. Fortunately for her country she continued to spend her time devoted to people both as undersecretary general of the Untied Nations and as an advisor to a number of public and private humanitarian organizations.
Today she is leading the Liberian unity movement that is working to bring her country back together and to eventually be able to sustain peace without dependence on UN Peacekeepers. The small audience in attendance last week were primarily Liberian and African experts as well as community leaders, and of course myself, who is neither. The dialogue outlined the difficulty attendant with first winning a free election and then solving her nation’s problems. Problems such as:
- 85% unemployment.
- Refugees returning to their villages only to find that they no longer exist.
- 100,000 disarmed children and young people who were made to kill, often having no other choice.
- A broken and often corrupt civil service.
- Operating sweetheart contracts signed by a dictatorship that sold his country for kickbacks.
- An infrastructure that has broken down to the point that often something as basic as water supply is unreliable at best.
So why am I reporting all of this to you? It is because I walked away realizing that all those things that we complain about pale by comparison. I don’t mean that we should stop doing what we can as citizens to make things better, what I do mean is that we are fortunate to only have the problems we have. When I think of life and how we became part of it I cannot help thinking that if it were not for my good fortune at birth I might have been one of those who are truly suffering, rather than one that is merely inconvenienced.
Real education should educate us out of self into something far finer; into a selflessness which links us with all humanity.
She said, when my granddaughter, Ann, was 9-years-old, she was given an assignment by her teacher to write a story on “Where my family came from.” The purpose was to understand your genealogy.
I was not aware of her assignment when she asked me at the dining room table one night,
“Grandma, where did I come from?”
I responded quite nervously because my son and daughter-in-law were out of town and I was stalling until they returned home,
“Well, honey, the stork brought you.”
“Where did Mom come from then?”
“The stork brought her, too.”
“OK, then…. where did you come from?”
“The stork brought me too, dear.”
“Okay, thanks, Grandma.”
I did not think anything more about it until two days later when I was cleaning Ann’s room and read the first sentence of her paper. . .
“For three generations there have been no natural births in our family.”
“No husband has ever been shot while doing the dishes.”
My friend and I joined a weight-loss organization. At one meeting the instructor held up an apple and a candy bar.
“What are the attributes of this apple,” she asked, “and how do they relate to our diet?”
“Low in calories” and “lots of fiber,” were among the answers.
She then detailed what was wrong with eating candy, and concluded, “Apples are not only more healthful but also less expensive. Do you know I paid fifty-five cents for this candy bar?” We stared as she held aloft the forbidden treat.
From in back of the room a small voice spoke up. “I’ll give you seventy-five cents for it.”
Talk is Cheap – until you hire a lawyer.
Mary: Were your parents upset when you got a divorce?
Jill: Well, you know how parents are. My mother said, “SO! Is this how it’s going to be? Just one man after another for the rest of your life?”
Mary: Typical! What did you tell her?
Jill: I said, “Gee, I hope so!”
When you are looking for obstacles, you can’t find opportunities.
J. C. Bell
A husband was with his wife when she decided to buy something for their daughter-in-law at an exclusive lingerie shop.
Inside, the husband was feeling very out of place when a beautiful clerk asked if she could help him.
In a cocky manner, he asked, “Where are all the men’s clothes?”
In a demure voice the clerk replied, “All of these clothes *are* for men, sir.”
It is what we think we know already that often prevents us from learning.
A salesman was trying to talk a farmer into buying a bicycle, but was meeting with considerable sales resistance.
“Shucks, I’d sooner spend my money on a cow,” said the farmer.
“Ah,” replied the salesman, “but think how silly you’d look riding around on a cow.”
“Humph!” retorted the farmer. “Not near as silly as I’d look trying to milk a bicycle!”
A husband is a man who wishes he had as much fun when he goes on business trips as his wife thinks he does.
Three people were trying to get into heaven. Peter asked the first, “Who’s there?” “It’s me, Albert Jones,” the voice replied. St. Peter let him in.
Then St. Peter asked the second one the second same question, “Who’s there?” “It’s me, Charlie Jones.” And St. Peter let him in.
Finally he turns to the third, asking the same question, “Who’s there?”
“It is I, Verla Chapman,” answered the third.
“Oh, great,” muttered St. Peter. “Another one of those English teachers.”
To care for anyone else enough to make their problems one’s own, is ever the beginning of one’s real ethical development.
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