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“When will our consciences
grow so tender that we
will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?”
— Eleanor Roosevelt

*

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” — C.S. Lewis

*

“If the world is ending ~ fall in love with every aspect before it is gone. Take this as a sign to finally let it hurt, and let it burn, and let it be beautiful all over you.
Try not to harden your heart.”
~ i.e. kali ~

Living in this world is more difficult and painful than it has to be for the simple reason that we learn early in life to disconnect from rather than to love others. That is a kind of laziness. We don’t want to bother ourselves with imagining the reality of other people. We can’t be bothered to imagine the suffering of nature. We thoughtlessly kill life-forms around us. We just don’t want to be concerned with anyone else’s plight.

That disconnection, that focus on “me and mine” makes a cruel world — not just for the world around us but for ourselves as well. It’s a simple connection but somehow it’s difficult for us to see it. If we did see it, we would stop.

Do we not see the connection because we can’t or because we just don’t want to? I think it’s because we don’t want to make the effort. People who stand in front of us and talk about spiritual values may speak of such things once a week, but we put that on the religious shelf as soon as the obligatory listening is over. Real life is something else, involving competition, self protection and advancement, vigilance and suspicion, success and failure. Life is hard enough without love coming into the picture.

Our vicious circle is invisible to us. We make life hard and then complain that it’s hard. It would be funny except that it’s so tragic for so many of us. We have constructed this vice. We are turning the screws, all the while crying that it hurts. Yes it does hurt. Maybe we should take pity on ourselves.

That’s hard to do because it involves taking pity on everyone. Softening our hearts means caring for others, noticing their suffering and offering what we can to heal it. That’s where we stumble. Truly caring for others seems to be a bridge too far. We live in an ethos of punishment and retribution. Unless this changes at the source, we will continue to live in a cruel cruel world.

Human perception is at the crux of this global problem. When that changes, we will be able to stop a lot of unnecessary suffering.

Written by

I occasionally write fiction and also about creativity, loving, language learning and travel. I’m a longtime painter and reader.

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