It is interesting, I think, that in yesterday’s DM about climate change and in today’s news about rising COVID cases amidst people who refuse to get vaccinated, the word “selfishness” comes up as the problem most interfering with solutions.
Environmental lawyer Dr. Gus Speth has said that he used to think the number one obstacle to environmental sustainability was climate change and ice melting and floods multiplying and wildfires exploding—but no! The number one problem is humans who succumb to selfishness and apathy. And refuse to face climate change.
Might it be that our culture and its extreme individualism has penetrated many minds and souls with the notion that we are isolated individuals? And that thinking of others is for suckers? Whether those others be my neighbor who has just as much right to be spared a virus that can harm them or even kill them as I do?
Or a fellow human being miles away or in another country or on another continent with the same rights to a healthy life and healthy air as myself? Or other species including trees, insects, animals, birds, whales, fishes who also strive to live full and productive lives in their own way?
We probably all know what “selfish” means, it’s not exactly an esoteric word. Here is how Webster’s Dictionary defines it: “Concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself: seeking or concentrating on one’s own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others.”
What would the opposite of “selfish” be? Concern for others? Regard for others? Caring about more than just oneself?
Love. Compassion. Seeing and feeling beyond oneself. Sort of the opposite of narcissism, isn’t it?
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Has that advice been tossed aside? Is it no longer useful?
See Matthew Fox, A Spirituality Named Compassion.
Also see Matthew Fox, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society.
Banner Image: “Age-Adjusted Rolling 7-day Hospitalization Rates.” From Griffin JB, Haddix M, Danza P, et al, “SARS-CoV-2 Infections and Hospitalizations Among Persons Aged ≥16 Years, by Vaccination Status — Los Angeles County, California, May 1–July 25, 2021.” MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. ePub: 24 August 2021. Freely available on CDC.Gov. Reference to specific commercial products, manufacturers, companies, or trademarks does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by the U.S. Government, Department of Health and Human Services, or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For the transcript to today’s meditation, click HERE.
Queries for Contemplation
What does “love your neighbor as yourself” mean to you? Who is your neighbor? Does it extend to those who can die from coronavirus if we do not get vaccinated? And those dying from effects of climate change such as floods and wild fires and more? What does love mean in those circumstances?
A Spirituality Named Compassion: Uniting Mystical Awareness with Social Justice
In A Spirituality Named Compassion, Matthew Fox delivers a profound exploration of the meaning and practice of compassion. Establishing a spirituality for the future that promises personal, social, and global healing, Fox marries mysticism with social justice, leading the way toward a gentler and more ecological spirituality and an acceptance of our interdependence which is the substratum of all compassionate activity.
“Well worth our deepest consideration…Puts compassion into its proper focus after centuries of neglect.” –The Catholic Register
“Wisdom, Grace, Love” – a 3-part online lecture series by Caroline Myss, Andrew Harvey, and Matthew Fox, September 8, 15, and 22, 3:00-4:30 pm Pacific (GMT/UTC-7). Learn more HERE.