We all can find the greater good

In this age of WIIFM – what’s in it for me – this may not be a popular article. I don’t mean it to be a religious treatise. I am not qualified by any standard to assume such a thing. I’m just indulging my thoughts on my keyboard.

From antiquity we have a list of what are referred to as the Seven Deadly Sins. Does that mean they will shorten one’s life? My encyclopedia says only that they kill a person’s Spirit. When I look at them, they seem to all have one characteristic in common. The seed from which all of the so-called seven deadly sins spring from appears to be, an exaggerated self-interest. Let me list these culprits from antiquity. They are: pride, covetousness, lust, anger, gluttony, envy and sloth.

If they are deadly, and if one doesn’t mind dying at an early age as long as they can indulge themselves in whatever, what does it matter? It’s their life!

It matters because none of us live in an isolated cocoon. Our lives make a difference to others, for good or bad. It’s no one’s fate to be overcome by an unhealthy obsession. We may enjoy our appetites or preferences, but we must not be obsessed with them. Just like the bees in their hive, we all have a responsibility to our society to contribute to the well-being, and prosperity of humanity.

You, I, and everyone else, owe our lives to the continued growth and progress of humanity. We all have a duty to contribute to the growth of society reaching a nirvana of humanity. We are all different and thus contribute in different ways. In our struggle for survival, we have been creeping slowly, through the centuries, toward a mutual understanding of the wonderment of humanity. The founding of America was a great step forward in accepting the rights of all men, even though that has not been completely understood by all of our citizenry, and may still have a ways to go.

There is a destiny of mankind on this green globe. It is only our ignorance that keeps us from realizing what can be possible on earth. When we feel we are better than others (pride); when we are jealous of what someone else has (covetousness); when frustration brings us (anger); when we become obsessed, and desire someone with no regard to their personhood (lust); When we eat excessively to substitute an unrealized desire (gluttony); when in our (sloth) we (envy) the progress of the worker; we inhibit our society by denying it our best, personal contribution.

As small children, we are 100 percent into self-interest. All we really care about is what we want. We don’t know any better. As we grow into adulthood, we (presumably) become more willing to earn our own way. What we often miss, however, is when we scramble too hard to get what we think we want, we sometimes miss the fork in the road that leads to our true desire.

It has been taught that evil is caused by the influence of Satan. He is portrayed as a onetime angel, who was overcome by a desire for his own glory, with no loyalty to God. To me, this is an illustrating story, which paints extreme self-interest, or egocentricity as the basis or ultimate evil, whether in the form of an angel-devil, or a human. History is full of evil, egocentric people. Adolph Hitler? Ivan the Terrible?

We cannot, however, enact generosity between people by passing laws. That is not generosity; it is legalized thievery. It caters only to the covetousness and envy of ignorance and sloth. It inhibits understanding and growth. It has failed when tried, because it robs people of their natural aspirations, that inborn urge to make something of their lives. The solution was simplified by Jesus in saying, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” May God bless America.

Richard Westlund is a Collins resident. Send comments to editorial@observertoday.com