I recently came across a beautiful, insightful, and eye-opening little piece of writing by the Dalai Lama that really got my brain worked up. The poem is called the Paradox of Our Age, and I think it’s one of the most accurate portraits of modern life, and our struggles as humans that I have ever read:
We have bigger houses but smaller families;
more conveniences, but less time.
We have more degrees but less sense;
more knowledge but less judgment;
more experts, but more problems;
more medicines but less healthiness.
We’ve been all the way to the moon and back,
but have trouble in crossing the street to meet our new neighbor.
We built more computers to hold more copies than ever,
but have less real communication;
We have become long on quantity,
but short on quality.
These are times of fast foods but slow digestion;
Tall men but short characters;
Steep profits but shallow relationships.
It’s a time when there is much in the window but nothing in the room
-14th Dalai Lama
So how do we overcome the “Paradox of Our Age”?
Live and let Live
Imagine a world where people quit telling everyone else how to live their lives, and instead focused on living their own. Seriously, I cannot figure out where anyone gets the notion that they have the right to tell anyone how to live their lives. Yes, if you think that I’m alluding to religious people, you are absolutely correct. I’m not pointing fingers at any specific religion, but I’m sure that none of them teach the idea that if someone else doesn’t believe what you believe that it is up to you to MAKE them. It just baffles me why people can’t say, “well I believe in this religion, but if you don’t – that’s okay.” Instead, they force their beliefs on anyone around them, despite those people’s belief.
Maybe it’s time that we just stop forcing our opinions, whatever they are based on, onto other people. Support each other, instead of criticizing what someone else chooses to do with their life. Ask yourself the question, “how will this person’s choices affect me?” If the answer is, “it won’t”, then leave them alone. For instance, I always ask people who are against gay marriage, “how will gay marriage affect your life?”. They usually start off with an answer like, “well the bible is against it”, to which I ask again, “how will gay marriage affect YOUR life – not what the bible says.”
The real answer is that it will not, but very rarely do I ever get that response. If some stranger on the other side of the country wants to do something you don’t agree with – why do you have the right to tell them they can’t?
Re-Evaluate what is Truly Valuable
Imagine a world where companies valued human beings over dollars. Greed is one of the all-time driving forces of evil deeds, and it’s alive and well in almost every aspect of our lives. It’s also timeless. Wars have been waged in the name of power, religion, and resources for centuries, all with a human price tag. And for what? For the benefit of a select few. The same goes for modern corporations. Companies that are selling poisons in the form of pharmaceuticals, processed foods, or GMO’s are no different that the conquering emperors from history – they just go about the process differently. Corporate responsibility is making a comeback, but how long will it take for these people to realize that a human life is priceless?
Read: What’s YOUR Brain Age?
We do the same things in our own lives. Tyler Durden had it right when he pointed out that we work jobs we hate to buy shit we don’t need to impress people we don’t like. People buy themselves into debt and the ensuing stress of trying to pay those debts back ruins their lives and relationships. What good is a big house if you live in it alone? What good is anew car if you have nowhere to go? Why can’t people get back to valuing each other as much as we value our sorted possessions?
Both of the previous thoughts boil down to one simple concept: take care of each other. I know this concept seems so simple and naive, but why? Why is it a stretch to assume that if people would actually abide by the simplest of mindsets, The golden Rule, that the world wouldn’t be a better place. “It’s not that simple”, people say. “Yes. Yes it really is”, I say. And it starts with each of us, every single day.