Sunday, July 12, 2015

DOING



I have learned most of what I know by doing. That is not to say I haven't had some good teachers. While teachers can show you what to do, they cannot do it for you. Doing is the true test of learning.
 
The blatant hypocrisy of most religion is rooted in the failure of preachers to become practitioners. For example, Pope Francis, who preaches on the need to reach out to the poor and heal the environment, lives in a castle surrounded by lackeys and wears Prada slippers. He is not helping the Vatican gardeners to grow organic vegetables for the street people of Rome.
 
I call myself a practical humanist because I seek to practice what I learn to appreciate as ethical and sensible in a social and environmental context. Nothing more. I do not have delusions of grandeur. I do not think I will bring about world peace. I do not think most of what I do or think daily would appeal to most of the people in my environment. I am not about living anyone else's life but my own. Paradoxically, I see this as a form of compassion.
 
Doing what I feel is ethical and sensible (good, in some parlance) has its own effect on my environment. I do not need the symbols or pageantry of religion to convey what I aspire to be about. I maintain my property, I maintain my quiet gardens. I attend civic association meetings. I promptly pay bills and taxes. I say 'hello' to people on my daily walks in my environment. I help my neighbors when I can with the simplest of things. I pick up papers off the streets and sidewalks. I report dead trees along sidewalks. I could go on. In other words, I do what seems the right thing to do for my own self respect and the maintenance of my environment.  
 
I have attended many small group meetings in my life. I have listened to group members whine and complain, cry and wail, about the injustices of their lives. When I was younger, I did my share of processing my anger and sadness in these settings. But ultimately it was all just talk. And talk is cheap. Change comes with doing. Many of the people I shared those experiences with seemed to think that verbalizing or feeling was the doing. I believe that is simply wrong. The doing is transforming those epiphanies into a daily practice which makes your own life and the world a better place. This isn't religion. This is action, motivated by education, persistence and love of oneself and the natural world.

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