No doubt, you deserve the best in life. You are the best person there is, at least in your own view. And there is nothing wrong with viewing yourself as the best person around. We all need to accept and appreciate ourselves, for in doing so, we get our self-esteem escalated to admirable levels. The teachings of ‘loving your neighbor as you love yourself’ confirm existence of a presumption of you already loving yourself well enough; so well that you are urged to love those around you in the same manner to make the world a memorable place for all. Indeed and literally speaking, you are the first person you get to know before knowing anyone else. Before you can know how to appreciate and love others, it is only logical that you begin by appreciating and loving your own self.
What concerns me this morning, is not the existence of these facts of life; rather, the fact that most of us have misconstrued these facts and redefined them to justify our selfish tendencies. That we are important, does not render the other person useless; that we deserve the best in life does not imply the other person deserves left overs; that you should love yourself should not be taken by any stretch of imagination to imply that you should hate or dislike the other person. I am concerned that these misconceptions define our world today, at least going by the happenings of the day. Humility, a fundamental virtue of life appears to have been left to the dogs. Humility is the ability to acknowledge that the other person is better than you in one way or the other. It is a tall order yet the easiest secret to cohesion in society.
It is saddening that we have turned a deaf ear to the sounds of reality. We have refused to accept that there can never be a perfect individual well-endowed in all spheres of life. Each one of us is uniquely endowed in certain areas and uniquely lacking in others. This makes life a puzzle whose only solution lies in our ability to appreciate the other person and give him/her a chance to showcase their contribution to the puzzle. But how can we do that when we only think of ourselves? When we only distribute leftovers to others after convincing ourselves that our hands cannot hold anymore? The challenge I am bringing forth in this Focus Talk is, ‘what about the other person?’
The dangers of disregarding the other person are enormous and have continued to eat away our society. Today’s Focus Talk might touch you in the wrong spots as I highlight examples of ways in which our ‘selfishness’ has harmed our harmonious existence. It has been Focus Talk’s sole objective to inspire progressive change in society and one way to achieve this is by unmasking, facing our realities and being deliberate in changing our ways.
The effects of corruption in society cannot go unnoticed. It is a word known even by two year-olds who have no clue what it means. Its basic definition has been ‘misuse of public trust for private gain’. This definition is explicit. It tells the root cause of corruption – our love for ourselves and our disregard for others. When you embezzle funds for a road construction, what about the other person (the road user)? You can only use money for buying school books on personal projects when the other person – the student – does not matter to you. You can only think of swindling public/corporate funds when the intended beneficiaries are not as important to you. The examples here are numerous.
Some of us disadvantage our colleagues at the workplace in many ways than one. We sabotage their access to crucial information to make them appear ignorant; we demand for ‘something’ from juniors either in monetary or in kind terms to influence their promotion and we even threaten to sack those juniors who refuse to give in to our lustful sexual desires. All these, we do because the other person does not exist to us, their well-being is of no concern to us, the families they support are irrelevant to us and their dignities are irrelevant! It’s all about ‘me’.
Cases of murder and rape are reported every other second and terrorism is now a local reality. It looks like the sanctity of life lost meaning. Killing and rape have become hobbies for many criminal minds and men and women are increasingly planning murder against their own spouses. Interestingly is the fact that behind all these deaths and rape cases, there is someone pushing for some selfish interests. There is someone grossly disregarding the importance of the other person; there is someone who feels he/she is the only one with the right to live and there is someone who feels that the dignity of his rape victim is inconsequential.
Our marriage institution is on trial with unending conflicts threatening the very existence of this vital family structure. Domestic violence and squabbles characterize many marriages today, whatever happened to the doctrines of love and submission! Homes have turned into argument and debating arenas as husbands and wives face off in supremacy battles, each of them determined to demonstrate how good, special and superior he/she is over the other. None of them seems interested in answering the question, ‘what about the other person?’
We can go on and on and on. The examples are endless, some with fatal consequences and others with minor consequences. You can only have the guts to block another car while parking yours, when the interests of the other driver are immaterial to you. You can only litter the streets and even spit in public when the impact of your actions to the other person do not disturb you.
Restoration of sanity in our society is a role that rests on each of us individually. There is still hope to make the world the best place if each of us took time to cultivate and embrace humility. We will not be corrupt if we view the other person as being better than us in some way; we will not kill if we get humble enough to accept that the other person has an important role to play in society. The world is always big enough to accommodate each one of us. We need each and every one of us for life to happen with ease.
Humility allows the other person to contribute as well as giving you the chance to learn. No matter who you are and where you are, spare some moments before every decision to ask and answer the question, ‘what about the other person?’ We should never use our struggles for existence and survival as an excuse for oppressing and injuring the other person. It was Dalai Lama who said, “Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.” Humility has never killed anyone, instead, it has always carried bountiful blessings. Stand and be counted as one who acknowledged the greatness in the other person and gave them a chance because YOU CAN DO BETTER!
Motivational Speaker and Author