“We are the champions, my friends, And we’ll keep on fighting ’til the end, We are the champions, We are the champions, No time for losers, ‘Cause we are the champions of the world” Freddie Mercury
So I was talking to a Facebook ‘friend’ and I had posted something that he vehemently disagreed with. Sometimes the truth can be subjected. Understanding that will allow you to get beyond self.
It all begins in childhood. We are brought up in a small restrictive environment. Even those of us who are exposed to a lot beyond our own immediate sphere don’t know a lot. For me personally, my eyes didn’t open up to what the world could be until I hitchhiked across the United States. I saw people acting in a very different way then I was accustomed to. Conveniently this friendliness I experienced went hand in hand with my new found Christian faith. As such I incorporated the friendly behavior I saw in West Virginia and other places into my life.
When we are a child we are unable to understand much beyond what we are initially presented. Let us take United States history for example. We are taught the perspective of the European conquerors. While some effort may be made to show other points of view, such as from the African slave or from the Native Americans who were victims of genocide it is at best a very difficult task. Before deviating from the baseline the baseline must be first established. Only when we grow and mature can we have the ability to look at things from another perspective.
It is very important that we understand that other people see things in a different fashion. This is the key for all of us getting along and living harmoniously. But unfortunately ‘living harmoniously’ is not the goal of our modern capitalistic society, but rather it is making money.
Capitalism by itself is inherently selfish. The United States boldly claims to be the ‘wealthiest nation’ in the world and the ‘greatest nation’ that ever existed. Yet we have homeless people in our society, and people that go to sleep hungry including children. Even our veterans, those who kill, murder and destroy to secure our nation’s wealth are neglected. When over twenty veterans a day commit suicide there is something wrong with the system. Unfortunately, those who conveniently send the soldiers into harm’s way, have not the slightest care for our veterans. If they did at a minimum they would provide for their basic needs, such as housing and mental health. But capitalism is a system where it is okay to use others and that is a brutal lesson.
However, there are other systems and other philosophies than the endless greed which dominates the United States. There are some who outright reject materialism. People who believe that success in life is not measured by the size of one’s bank account but by the good one does to their fellow man. This tenet is at the core of Christianity though many who claim to be ‘Christians’ do not adhere to this simplistic teaching. But the important idea is that people think differently from you in even the most basic ideas.
Religion, culture, politics, all contribute to the diversity of humanity. As such if we as the human race want to live together in a better world we must understand each other.
In my own personal journey, I have taken the time to learn in depth the cultures of the Native Americans, African Americans, and the worker. This was coupled with my study of religion or primarily Christianity. I have found that my efforts have enhanced my life and has allowed me to get along with people better. Every Native American is familiar with George Washington but do you know who Red Cloud, Sitting Bull or Chief Joseph was? Perhaps you don’t care, well then that is the root of the problem.
There are absolutes but the truth is subjective. Take a Palestinian and a Zionistic Jew and ask them the history of the same land and you will get two very different stories. Which one is right?
Just understanding self makes one shallow and one dimensional. If you never put the effort into learning about others you never will. The second greatest command of Jesus was to “Love your neighbor.” If you don’t know your neighbor you cannot love him.
Back to my own personal journey and my mental health. When I learned that there was another way to live I felt better. I understood that this harsh, selfish world that we live in was not the only possibility. Not only that but that there were other people living simultaneously in different realities. People full of hopes and dreams of something better as opposed to business as usual. Of course, it takes courage to explore beyond self as what you see will challenge the very core of what makes you what you are. Do you have the courage to look?
My book “Poet To The Poor, Poems Of Hope For The Bottom One Percent” is a book with some of my greatest poetry. It explores history and today’s life from the vantage point of the poor and downtrodden. https://amzn.to/2MOVBwp
Photos by shannonkringen,