Read Paul Born's latest book:
Read Paul Born's latest book:
As this year fades into memory, it is perhaps time to reflect on life as infinity and change as continuum. This past year appeared to be just an extension of the year before. The evident economic, political and social turmoil of the past several years continues to grow like the contagion that it is; no end is in sight. In reflection, this is no different than so many periods throughout history, when the excesses of the few, at the expense of the many, have caused rebellion.
In the midst of such turbulence, lost is the concept of life as infinity and balance as necessity. Despite the many cries of “the end is nigh”, life has its own means of rebalancing to ensure its continuum, despite the arrogant behavior of so much of humankind.
So as we approach the dawn of a new year, it is perhaps a good time to consider the folly of what has been created by the few and condoned by the many. It is perhaps a time to move beyond the biases, mis-beliefs and barriers that impede life’s progress.
It appears that human egotism has grown to the point, whereby, the belief is that we, as humans, control life; not the inverse. The result is that another generation is being taught the realities of life’s infinity and the finiteness of human existence. Those of us growing older are discovering this most vivid of truths.
This year for me has provided many such reminders. It is evident in the visible and visual impacts of human excess on our environment, its subsequent impact on people throughout the world and its destructive consequences for the systems that were created to help ease the passage through life for many.
There have been many reminders of my own finiteness through the increasing frailness of so many friends and family through illness and disease and the growing list of those who have passed from this life.
It might be easy for one to despair, as one gets older, were it not for the many blessings that life continues to share. Most notable is the amount of courage one witnesses by those afflicted with illness and those that have to provide for their care. Their resilience holds one in awe of the human spirit and the power of their will to experience all that life can offer, even through such anguish and hardship.
To remind me of life’s infiniteness, it has been my blessing to witness in my extended and global family the babies of just a few years ago blossoming into young men and women. My year in The Gambia has reinforced this truth by being surrounded by so many beautiful young children near my home and in my travels – there numbers appear a constant in a world of diminishing change.
Africa, as well, has provided for me other glimpses of life, including the hardship being endured by so many, especially the children, in a world where the excess of the few has become the norm. It has also reaffirmed the suppleness of our human ability to exist in the midst of such unnecessary deprivation.
Yet, the excesses continue, dismissed by the few as the envy of the many, despite the obvious pain and suffering that is being experienced throughout the world. This is true now, not only in developing countries, but those considered developed as well.
Political turmoil grows, as a result, even in supposedly democratic countries. The responses by all those in power have been the same, with intolerance and repression of any who dare dissent or rebel. Only the degree has been different. The mis-belief is that dissent can be stifled by oppression, but history would demonstrate something different.
Christmas, is also a reminder of life’s infinity, as it is the celebration of the birth of Christ, one whose death (because of dissent) and his subsequent resurrection epitomized life’s continuity and infinity.
His life encompassed a message, so muddled in the world of today, of caring, sharing and giving, not just out of charity, but with love and humility. But then, even the concept of love, as life’s essence, much less the concept of giving and sharing, has been given a much different connotation by the few.
The values espoused by Christ, are not unique to Christianity, they have been the cornerstone of human existence and the purview of all those throughout history who believed in the sanctity of life itself.
As we look towards a new year, please let me share my deepest desire for a renewed vision of the world and for human life.
This vision of the emerging new world encompasses societies beyond bias, intolerance and fear and which have no limits or barriers to genuine human progress. It is a world where each and every person has value and is valued for their inherent gifts. This world would ensconce within it the values of caring, equitable sharing, family and community, so that they are not only rooted in its foundations, but its very basis. In this new world there is respect, reverence and sanctity for all life, the physical world, and the universe in recognition of their collective infiniteness.
There is no doubt that a new world is emerging. The challenge for the many is to influence its reshaping so that it is a world beneficial for all; not just the few.
December 22nd, 2011