March 23, 2016

You are Not the Sun: Suggestions for Liberation from the Disease of Self.

"Donald Trump,"Gage Skidmore, Flickr

On this spring morning I wish I could say I opened my Facebook feed to find pictures of friends and loved ones. However, this was not the case.

There was a strange orange fellow everyone was talking about, often in jest, and his name is Donald Trump. Or, as John Oliver would call him, “Donald Drumpf.”

The latest topic for online enthusiasts is that of his narcissism. Everyone has become an armchair psychiatrist, and he has become a poster child for many mental ailments. I have to admit this is quite a sound theory, but it brings to my mind an issue that is bigger than the United States, North America or even the world.

When you go out into the world, how often do you find yourself frustrated by a long wait in line? Do you get frustrated when you are driving behind someone who is slower than a turtle in peanut butter? Have you had your morning impacted by that person in front of you getting the last freshly baked muffin, or by your coffee taking too long? These are random examples, but I think we can all relate in some way.

We are focusing our attention and our love for the world inward, and in turn depriving the world around us of nourishment.

These small things become big things, and while we criticize Trump, we should perhaps look at him as the extreme example of everything that needs to be healed in this world.

This would include the disease of self.

Let’s look at these scenarios differently. Perhaps the slow person in front of you in the grocery store is a single parent, and they are exhausted from a long night with a sick child. Maybe that person in front of you in traffic is new to town and trying to find an address. That person in front of you who got the last muffin? They are just as deserving of it as you are.

As a culture, we have become so incredibly individualistic that we are immune to the circumstances and challenges others face. We have become strangers to empathy. We are all part of one body, and if one part of the body is ill, the rest of the body is affected.

How do we go about fixing this problem? Here are a few suggestions:

Be of Service to Others.

This is, in my opinion, the most important. Volunteer, both officially and unofficially. Be of service to those who may need a skill or talent you possess. Are you a good cook? Volunteer at a soup kitchen. Do you have a talent for woodworking? Help a neighbor who needs a wheelchair ramp for their ailing parent. This will force you to put your heart and energy into the direction of another. This is a large part of the Baha’i faith as per this wonderful quotation:

“Do not be content with showing friendship in words alone, let your heart burn with loving kindness for all who may cross your path.” ~ Bahá’u’lláh

Take Yourself into Account Each Day.

This is a big part of the Baha’i faith that I think can be of great benefit to people of all walks of life. Make meditation a daily practice and reflect upon your actions during the day. Figure out what you could have done better, kinder or more effectively.

Random Acts of Kindness.

Give to others with no expectation of anything returned to you, whether it be material or praise. Surprise someone who is down with a sincere compliment. Practice this until it is effortless. The following quote by Rumi is one I think we should all memorize:

“When we practice loving kindness and compassion we are the first ones to profit.” ~ Rumi

Learn the Art of Listening.

Often when others talk we tend to think we are listening, but alas, we are not. We are thinking of what we are trying to say, and the speaker can pick up on it. By learning the art of listening, we can begin to know and really understand those around us, and as a result we will feel more connected to our community.

Realize You are Not the Sun.

You are not the sun, but rather one star among billions. Your life is of no greater importance than another. It does not matter how wealthy you are, what color your skin is or how successful you may perceive yourself to be. Your time is not worth more, and your well-being shouldn’t be at the cost of someone else who is, in fact, equally important.

These suggestions are just the some of many; however, my final point is a very simple one:

Love, love, and love.

When you care for people, you give them time, you give them patience, you give them opportunities, and you take an interest in them. Love the community you are in, love the people you work with, and love people even if they are not your blood relatives.

Be a healthy part of the collective human body, because together we can all do our part to treat the disease of self.

We don’t need guns, violence, hatred or hoards of angry protesters to change a country. What we need is a revolution of peace that starts at a grassroots level with us and changing our behaviors.

Mr. Trump, I’m looking at you.


Relephant Read:

Our Society Has a Disease, & It Isn’t What You Think.


Author: Alicia Doiron

Editor: Toby Israel

Image: Gage Skidmore/Flickr


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Alicia Doiron