Since we're coming up on Independence Day, I’m thinkin this week about what makes our country truly great. Worth fighting for. What we want to be about.
For me, it boils down to a very simple quote: “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.....easy to say, harder to do.
The Golden Rule. I only repeat it now because it’s something I want to remember in my life. Something I consider an aspiration and it makes sense to me.
For all my talent and hard work over the many miles, I know what I am. Basically, I’m a worker bee. A member of the proletariat. And proud of it. I make a paycheck like most Americans (as I always say “good work when you can get it”). I say “proletariat” because in the Roman sense of the word, I have no real property. I have owned property in this life but the experience of ownership caused me to feel owned as well. Sold a house at a huge loss and looking back, I’m fine with that. Weight lifted off, so to speak. The most I would even consider owning nowadays (besides my instruments and recording toys) would be some type of motorhome thingy. That was eco friendly, hopefully.
I’ve been contemplating a certain biblical phrase a lot lately.
“Man cannot serve God and mammon” (money).....Matthew 6:24 Again, easy to say, harder to do. To serve God, I mean. I end up serving money a lot. I need money. We all want to live in this world with some semblance of dignity. But it begs the question, what is dignity? A lot of people in this world live with virtually nothing and still keep their dignity. We are assaulted day after day in modern society by corporations spending millions telling you how cool they are and that they’re doing the right thing. Telling you that you need what they got, whether you actually do or not. If they spent those millions actually doing the right thing, that would be dignified. But I really don’t want to rail on about corporations. I would prefer to keep it simple, like, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. That's dignity.
I have always believed in “the better angels of our nature”. I am my mother’s son. She believed in the inherent goodness of the human spirit and lived accordingly. Mom was also a worker bee with a Master’s degree. I’m one of the few in my family that doesn’t have a degree in anything but a PhD in hard knocks, but I believe in egalitarian principles. In other words, everybody gets an opportunity to go for it and make their dreams come true! For some, it’s a dream of just making a little more money. For others, it’s making a lot of money. I also believe the basic guideline should be “do unto others as you would have them do unto.....you get the picture.....
I remember when Sgt. Pepper’s first came out and that George Harrison lyric....”and the people...who gain the world and lose their soul” really smacked me hard one night. I was only 14 but I couldn’t get it out of my head. Now I think I know what it means, because all the money in the world cannot buy you one. more. breath. And breath is Precious. With a capital “P”.
Do I want to make money? Of course I do! I also want my priorities straight when I do. And I also want to “do unto others as”.....it’s about balance and it’s a choice, not a dilemma.....and I want to live with that kind of dignity.....
M. Lanning 6/30/11