by Bryan J. Neva, SR.
WHAT WE LEARN AS WE GROW OLDER
|Metro Manila, Philippines|
|Socrates forced to drink poison|
|Drawing of Plato's Cave|
So I reflected on all this and concluded that the righteous and the wise and what they do are in God’s hands, but no man knows whether love or hate awaits him. All share a common destiny—the righteous and the wicked, the good and the bad… [So] go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is now that God favors what you do… Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom. I have seen something else under the sun: the race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all… However many years a man may live, let him enjoy them all… Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.
Words that everyone once used are now obsolete, and so are the men whose names were once on everyone's lips…. For all things fade away, become the stuff of legend, and are soon buried in oblivion. Mind you, this is true only for those who blazed once like bright stars in the firmament, but for the rest, as soon as a few clods of earth cover their corpses, they are 'out of sight, out of mind.' In the end, what would you gain from everlasting remembrance? Absolutely nothing. So what is left worth living for? This alone: justice in thought, goodness in action, speech that cannot deceive, and a disposition glad of whatever comes, welcoming it as necessary, as familiar, as flowing from the same source and fountain as yourself.
WHAT PSYCHOLOGY TEACHES US
|Kindergarten nap time|
All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be, I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate-school mountain, but there in the sand pile at Sunday school. These are the things I learned:
Don’t hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
Live a balanced life—learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
Take a nap every afternoon.
When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
Be aware of wonder.
Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup—they all die. So do we.
And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned—the biggest word of all—LOOK.
Everything you need to know is in there somewhere: The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation; ecology and politics and equality and sane living. Take any one of those items and extrapolate it into sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your family life or your work or your government or your world and it holds true and clear and firm. Think what a better world it would be if we all—the whole world—had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments had as a basic policy to always put things back where they found them and to clean up their own mess. And it is still true, no matter how old you are—when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.
CHANGE YOURSELF AND YOU'LL CHANGE THE WORLD
You do not need to prove your might at the expense of others. You do not need diplomas, awards or the acclaim of others to know who you are. You do not need an audience to do the right thing. You do not need a lot of money or many physical possessions to be happy. You do not need stand first in line. You do not need coaxing to fulfill your religious obligations. You do not need lessons to act civilly. You do not need prompting to help someone in need.
|The Lorax (1971) by Dr. Suess (Theodor Suess Geisel)|
When we live loving, honest, decent, ethical, virtuous, and morally good lives, we make life more meaningful and better not only for ourselves but for everyone else around us. When we change for the better we help make the whole world a little better. The Greek and Jewish philosophers all believed this, the science of psychology affirms this, and deep down inside we all know this to be true (natural law). Mahatma Gandhi once said: We must become the change we want to see. So if we want to make our world a better place to live in, then, individually, each one of us must change for the better.