Wednesday, May 26, 2010
How Large Is Your Family?
People grace their loved ones with prayer, concern, and attention. And, this is how it should be. Yet, how often do these same people think of a larger family of mankind other than to acknowledge their problems and to comfortably view their plight from a safe distance? From family to friend to casual acquaintance to stranger -- not only bonds loosen with less acquaintance but also concerns about those less known lesson. Geography also encourages lack of concern as ties diminish from home to town to state to area to nation to world. To expect small group coherence is one thing but to even suggest loving large groups is often considered unpatriotic and absurd.
Most people push stereotypes of strangers to those around them to solidify the advantages of sameness. As people age, they show this conditioned distrust of certain racial, social and national groups. Sacred beliefs or religion even pull people apart when they collide. And, personalities? Certain folks don't "look right" or "dress right" or "act right." Any true family of mankind quickly learns that the accepted "family" in the phrase contains conditions and limitations. But should we limit our help and accept our appointed place in the scheme we inherit?
Age actually feeds ignorance in this manner. Resistance to things foreign is illustrated in the cliche' "You can't teach an old dog new tricks." The gap implied here is accepted by most individuals as proof of the frivolity of attempting to change those minds set to certain understandings reinforced by life experiences. The limitations become a mindset and supply ammunition for stunted thinking. Herein lies a trap.
What if the contributions to a family of mankind were actually as important, or in some cases even more important, as the contributions to close family and friends? How might this ranking of priorities affect the relationships of people dealing with other people? Would it upset the friendly small units of familiar friends or would it serve to make them stronger in a sense of a larger community?
As I consider these questions, I consider the complete strangers who have positively influenced my life by taking an interest in me for little or no apparent reason. Without these people, I am sure I would have missed valuable lessons and tremendous opportunities to advance. Without taking some risks with strangers, I would be less of a person today. I am quite certain I owe this same assistance to many I am yet to meet. I pray I may repay, at least in part.
I have seen every valuable human quality displayed in some of the most unusual places by some of the least worthy individuals. Not all wonderful people have every positive asset although many think so. Some have many, some a handful, and some just one. I can't help but wonder that, with support and help, many of the least of people would become many of the best of people. In fact, I know this is true. I have seen the evidence.
In conclusion, my sincere advice is to open up an opportunity or two to reach beyond a comfort zone. If, for no other reason, you may find others will "reach beyond" with you. Maybe a complete stranger will also identify your faults and apply a needed salve. I have no use for perfection and no belief in its existence in this world. I would rather offer a little rougher edge to work with good people with faults of their own.