Chronicles in Ordinary Time 73: Altruism

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I watched Guardians of the Galaxy this afternoon; amusing, but I’m getting tired of ‘comic book’ movies, aka ‘collateral damage’ movies. Movies whose most prominent feature is the property damage that occurs during the battles between the good guys and the bad guys. The movies rarely, if ever, deal with the fact that lots of people lose most of their stuff, if not their lives; and that the heroes of the movie rarely help the victims recover. That’s one of the places where the difference between life and movies becomes obvious.

C.S. Lewis hoped that mankind would never venture into the solar system and beyond—his fear was that we would spread the infection of our foul natures out to the other life in the universe. Ever notice how the science fiction movies that get made so often assume that other intelligent life chooses evil as a way to live? I can’t help but wonder whether or not other life in the universe may never choose evil as a way to respond to life…

I have a friend who is angry at god because of the evil in the world. I keep telling him that most of the evil in the world comes from the hands of man; and our tendency to use our Free Will to take advantage of others. We want what’s best for ourselves and are unwilling to put ourselves out for the benefit of others. Not all of us, not all of the time; but all it takes is a few of us taking advantage of others to ruin it for the rest of the world. Too many people respond to the bad stuff that happens to them by passing that bad stuff on to others. We feel crappy, or we feel crappy about our circumstances, and we act crappy toward others. The disease gets passed on to others.

Can you imagine a world where people treat each other, treat everyone graciously? I can, sort of, because I’ve met these kind of people. Not a lot of them; and most of them wouldn’t want to consider themselves as being ‘especially good’ people—we all know our failings, and these folks would look first at their failings, and consider them more significant than the good stuff that comes so easily to them. People that decide to live an entirely different life than most of us choose. I know a young couple, with a new baby, who have chosen to live in ‘outer Mongolia’ in order to tell people about Jesus, in a world where nearly everyone has never heard of Jesus. They have a different religious belief. To those who believe that one religious belief is as bad as another, this concept has a negative tone. It used to have a negative tone for me. Life changes one. I know this couple who are giving up most of the stuff that the rest of us strive for—there isn’t anything negative there. The same belief that sends healthcare workers to fight Ebola and MERS in a different country; the same altruism that sends people to Nepal when people are fleeing earthquakes. The altruism that sends First Responders into burning buildings…

It isn’t me; my goals are more mundane and more career-related. I’ve looked at this concept for lots of years.

I like to close with another illustration; none of the people I’m thinking of would like their faces to be used—they wouldn’t want to be seen as an example. So, I’ll end with some who are anonymous, and can express joy:

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