Ten things I owe the world

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 7, 2016 – 12:00am

We breathe the same air. We live on the same planet. Our own survival depends on one another. We are capable of the same feelings. We have the same dreams. We all need food, homes, education, jobs, security, opportunities, human rights, freedom, happiness.

Everything each of us does has an effect on someone or something. It may seem small or insignificant but it does create some kind of ripple in someone’s life. Even when we are alone, our state of mind, our consciousness, the thoughts we have and the things we do, matter somehow. They either make us better or worse than what we are. And that matters every time we engage each other. When we grow physically, emotionally, spiritually, the world is impacted positively, however small. And when we are selfish and irresponsible, the impact is negative.

When a person enters the world, he or she is mainly concerned with “finding him/herself.” Yes, there is a “self” to discover during the early time in our lives. When we get older, we redefine that same self as something bigger and inclusive of more people, until it collectively becomes all of mankind. We lose the small egotistic self and discover that, indeed, “we are the world,” as the song goes.

I have been thinking lately about how things are going in the world, and I have not been happy with what I see. People seem to be more prone to and affected by negativity than positivity. Bad news reigns. More often, pessimism gets more traction than optimism. There is a scarcity of goodwill, tolerance and kindness.

It could be just me. I don’t know.

But since we all live and affect each other, I would like to think that while we, individually, want to pursue happiness, we must also think collectively. The connectivity we share as humans forces us more and more to think collectively and consider the rest of mankind, even when we make many individual decisions. World events, and even social media have shown us how we affect each other. Good and bad things go viral and probably define how we view things on a daily basis.

In short, we cannot live just for and by ourselves. There is no escaping from one another. Here is list of some of the things I believe I owe mankind, if I am to live and love and pursue happiness in a world-centric way.

1) I owe every human being the recognition that he is more than a statistic, a nationality, a part of a race, a member of a social class and gender. Everyone is a person, a human being, unique, with a personal history and a purpose on earth.

2) I owe everyone respect just as I want respect from everyone.

3) It is my duty to honor, promote and defend everyone’s human rights.

4) In choosing between something that degrades humanity and something that uplifts it, I must choose the latter.

5) I must try and love everyone as well as possible. It is important to try and see God in everyone. Even my so-called enemies have what in Zen is called “Buddha nature.” If I cannot love fully, I must at least insist on giving the minimum required, which are respect and justice.

6) I owe it to the world to keep educating myself so that I may understand more and thus deliver the compassion and love that are most needed.

7) I owe everyone, especially future generations, a better, healthier, more sustainable planet.

8) I owe it to everyone to consume less of the earth’s resources and when possible recycle, revive and renew the planet.

9) I owe it to humankind to stand on the side of hope, positivity and, when faced with negativity, hate and hopelessness, to pursue positive action.

10) Lastly, I owe everyone a life of purpose for myself that makes me happy and creative. The happier I am, the more I can give. I cannot give what I do not have. And that purpose that makes me happy, helps me make life better and kinder for everyone around me.

This is not pie-in-the-sky stuff. This is a turning moment in the history of mankind. Values we built through the centuries that promote rationality, human rights, inclusivity, equality, tolerance are being challenged. And once in a while, we have seen that the world has a capacity to go berserk, as history has shown us. The polarization seems to tell us that we must either move upwards in evolution or move backward. Now is the time to consciously be aware and do the right thing.

The world needs help. Sometimes, what is demanded is a big act of compassion. Sometimes, a smile or a “thank you” is enough. We must do what we can to spread more kindness and happiness around.

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