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When life gets in the way

We have many ideas of what life is or means, but at least in this life, we shall never really know what it is. To truly enjoy it we must learn to do so, rather than to try to master our fellow man.

Mankind has had a long history on earth. We have been making progress very slowly over time. Our progress has been slow because we have been more interested in gaining control over one another than over ourselves. We have been too eager to take advantage of others, rather than to share our lives with them. We do this because of our own insecurities, our own fears of failure and destruction. The history of mankind is a long story of murder and warfare over thousands of years, and we are still at it.

Our models today are the movie stars and professional football players. They represent what many seek, power and adoration. More often than we realize, they are not all happy people. We should know better.

I don’t know who classified the seven deadly sins many years ago. We don’t pay much attention to them, or try in any meaningful way to overcome them. We’d rather be like our hero Frank Sinatra and sing, “I did it my way.” These so called seven deadly sins are some of the most common characteristics we find as we walk the paths of our lives. We are all familiar with them, but I will list them just so we remember them. They are: Pride, Covetousness, Lust, Anger, Gluttony, Envy and Sloth. We seem like dual personalities. We aspire to what we may believe can, and should be, but every day we act as though what we choose to do is simply practical, or realistic.

I don’t think any of us, including myself, have been immune to any of these petty or grand characteristics of the human mentality. I think a good case can be made that every one of these traits are based on our feelings of insecurity, our fears that we may meet with more misfortune that we are able to cope with. What it comes down to is that we have been destroying our good fortune with our fear of losing it. We are like the person who has not learned to swim, and when he gets in deep water flails away his energy trying to keep afloat, tires himself in his panic, and ends up drowning out of sheer fatigue, overcome by fear.

It is interesting that perhaps one of the most meaningful urges of Christianity has been “fear not.”

We truly don’t know where our lives come from. We truly don’t know what will happen when our life ends. Therefore the best thing we can do is to enjoy our days in the sun. To do this, we must enjoy our relationships with other people, all kinds of people. We all must learn to “live and let live” if we are to survive.

Life is a very tenuous situation. Every creature knows this. When you approach a non-domesticated animal in the wild, they will either make a run for it or threaten to attack you. Animals in the wild live, by the seat of their pants, by guess and by gosh, to put it crudely. Our highways are strewn with the carcasses of critters who did their best, but just didn’t understand. Wild creatures have no built in security system other than to flee. They have no purpose other than to eat, sleep and reproduce. Their understanding, like ours, is limited to their life’s function.

A human being can be just as fear driven as any creature. The difference is that we have been blessed with a mentality which has the ability to understand reality, although some of us still cast our fortunes to the winds of time, and face the unknown with an egoistic bravado for whatever comes our way. May God bless America.

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

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