Guest Opinion: A Wish for All Seasons

Daily, that miracle of miracles, the birth of a child reoccurs; a wondrous occasion in which each of us once became that focus of awe and attention. From this beginning was established our commonality, and an ever developing awareness of life.

At this time of year, more than others, we remember the sanctity of the gift of life. Along with our hopes and prayers we once again feel drawn to communal gatherings in which we can share those feelings of goodwill that all need to be a part of. A celebration of life, for some of one life in particular, for others the miracle of all life; therein lies the origin of the joyousness that makes this season so special.

All are born at the center of their own little universe. This universe then expands with our perception of it, and with the understandings we obtain, increasingly we distance ourselves from that center. Our own significance is replaced by an ever widening inclusion of not only other’s, but of considerations that continually grow as well. How well this describes the manner in which we mature and thereby approach that light of wisdom which illuminates the darkness of all our misunderstandings.

Joy and peace are the real rewards that accompany all those efforts needed to establish a justice that can only be for all, if it is to exist at all. Such a goal does indeed require our active participation, because without an earnest effort there is no possibility that it can ever be so. This task begins inside each of us, and requires an examination of all those thoughts of others that we only perceive as negative, but exist without evidence. To knowingly commit a harmful act, to seek to deny others of what is established as a “common good” which you yourself would not wish to be denied, to disparage the very ecosystem which sustains life; all this must be consciously avoided. Only then can we, with any surety, preserve for the future that unique opportunity for countless others yet unborn to experience life without the consequences of war or the challenges of conditions far more inhospitable to life. The inheritance of real value which we must pass on to others is not in the material things which we might accrue, but within all those thoughts and emotions that foster a better understanding and appreciation of the needs of others and of all life.

The effects of greed are pervasive and will always be there to tempt those who allow themselves to be. This needn’t become the guiding force for all human behavior. Many have successfully avoided this infectious quality, and in this very fact lies the hope for all mankind. A striving for self-discipline, a self-control that nurtures balance, a search for spiritual awareness, these are the means to ward off the disastrous consequences of an unbridled materialism which now threatens all life on this planet.

From long before the advent of today’s major religions, the social structure of tribal villages was a well adapted arrangement in which its very simplicity left little possibility of confusion regarding the “common good.” In today’s complex societies our significance as individuals may be deemed greater, but each person’s role within that concept is far more obscure. Western civilization has arrived at a democracy of only an implied choice.

Good and evil, right and wrong, the selection of products or representatives, all decisions are overshadowed by the power of persuasion which permeates society through a constant barrage of media ads with no well defined set of principles or values. This is truly a progress in need of questioning. Ample evidence exists to suggest that it has come at significant costs to many long established cultures, a price that has sometimes included their fundamental right to self-determination, and thereby their unique identity. We are in need of some serious soul-searching if we are to grasp some not so subtle connections between corporations that roam the globe in search of ever cheaper sources of labor, and consumers who base their decisions only on the lowest costs available. At a shopping mall, an automobile dealership, or any other place of business, sometimes grinding poverty and corrupt governments become symptoms of choices in which consequences were not considered. What difference does it really make if such results are unintended?

As we survey the bounty with which we are blest, let us turn our thoughts to those whose needs are great. In all faiths and among all people, the duty to provide for those less fortunate is ever clear and compelling. Let us reaffirm our humanity by offering not only our generosity, but an opportunity for self-help in the form of fair trade practices, and a demand for the establishment of a much needed world-wide minimum wage. The accumulation of obscene amounts of wealth and the consequent control of the world’s natural resources have produced tremendous economic distortions. Even if perceived injustices were not used to justify terrorism as a response, we still need to see these connections as possible and change the way we use energy, alter our patterns of consumption that now produce vast amounts of waste, and acknowledge that the rights we enjoy are ones that all mankind are likewise deserving of. If, in our euphoria as the greatest nation on earth we are blinded by the religion of success, unyielding in our faith in growth and uncompromising in our devotion to our own prosperity, then we have truly lost our way, spiritually. The path ahead of such convictions will be a very treacherous slope.

In the spirit which embraces all faiths, yet believes in one common creator; a spirit which awakens the love that all mankind needs if we are to reaffirm our commitment to the peace this world so urgently requires; I wish all people the health, strength and much needed wisdom to establish the foundation of a justice which will preserve peace among all people, and safeguard the earth itself, that veritable gift of life our creator bestowed upon us all.

– Hugo A. Roller
A concerned citizen and farmer
St. John