In 1966, Robert F. Kennedy said the following:
For the fortunate among us, the fourth danger is comfort, the temptation to follow the easy and familiar paths of personal ambition and financial success so grandly spread before those who have the privilege of education. But that is not the road history has marked out for us. There is a Chinese curse which says "May he live in interesting times." Like it or not we live in interesting times. They are times of danger and uncertainty; but they are also more open to the creative energy of men than any other time in history. And everyone here will ultimately be judged-will ultimately judge himself-on the effort he has contributed to building a new world society and the extent to which his ideals and goals have shaped that effort.
There have been many interesting times in the history of humanity. Plagues, wars and social revolution come to mind. We certainly live in one of those times right now, and should we survive, it makes me wonder what we’ll think when we look back on this time through the lens of how we will judge ourselves on “the effort he has contributed to building a new world society”. Will we see ourselves as having been useful in helping to put the world back on track? Will we have done our part? Might we be able to use this pandemic to re-evaluate where we’re headed as a society? Will we be able to find and tap our “creative energy” to help our world emerge intact from this interesting time?
I have a friend who “sees” a “luminous blue web” covering the globe. It may be visualized by imagining many points of light, all connected to nearby points by glowing blue filaments. Every point of light is somebody doing their part to protect, nurture and energize; each in their own way. Each does “good” in the way that they have the skills for and works best for them. The filaments represent the many individuals “holding hands” and working together to help their community. Their energies combined, breathe new life and hope into our very existence. In my own little way, I’ve tried to make us all more energy and water efficient. Others contribute in vastly different ways. They may grow food, or work in animal shelters, or simply share what they’ve learned in life to make the lives of others a bit better. The list of how each of us can be useful is bigger than imagination! Simply sharing a smile or a good thought is a step in the right direction. When we all play and you add up all the steps, it becomes a force that cannot be stopped.
In interesting times, it’s easy, almost expected that we will be fearful and want simply to protect ourselves and what we have. But if we allow ourselves to descend into fear or greed, we are not living up to our potential for helping humanity and our world get out of this dark time. Of course, you need to remain strong to be of use to others, but that’s different than circling your wagons. One thing I’ve found over time to be true, is that if you help others, you will be helped. You can’t know when you’ll get that help, but over decades, this “help and be helped” has without fail, always been true for me.
In 1962 Robert’s brother John made it a priority to put a man on the moon. We were all amazed at the concept, but the US got behind the idea and made it happen. It’s a practical lesson to us all, that we can make the “impossible” happen when we collectively have the will, and decide to row in the same direction.
Now is one of those times where we all need to be throwing our energies into helping our world, so I’ll suggest that we each consider how we may use our own individual talents to make it so. Even a simple act of kindness can have a tremendous impact. I’ve been told that in difficult times some years ago, some simple acts of kindness I did, gave hope and prevented four suicides. You create ripples with what you do. Let’s “join hands” virtually and create that luminous blue web right now. It’s needed!
Looking back over my working life of 50+ years, it seems clear that self sufficiency has always been the best way for me to be useful. Now, mix in a strong interest in water in its many forms and the wide world of animals and you'll know what's important to me.