Everyday Ethics: Take a Break

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Take a well-deserved break.

Why?

Because you won’t have to watch those ubiquitous, obnoxious TV ads until the next election. If I had to base my choices on them, I think I wouldn’t have voted at all. Wait a minute, maybe that was what the candidates wanted until the candidate you picked was only slightly worse than everyone else.

In the days to come, you won’t get a deluge of campaign announcements and later Medicare program ads to get. You can even turn off the TV or radio. It may take some time to push these lies and half-truths out of your mind, but you will feel much better afterwards.

Here’s a suggestion for feeling better about yourself and the world – quit Facebook and Twitter, the twin sirens of fake news and conspiracy theories. There are people who seem addicted to their social networks and can’t get rid of them for a day.

Read books and articles from trusted sources. Spend a few moments each day in quiet solitude. Walk somewhere slowly and carry an empty mind. Observe nature; it will teach you what you need to be whole.

Here is the ancient truth: humility is good for the soul. It allows you to grow in understanding and not get stuck in worn-out platitudes. It frees you from being defensive and therefore free from new ideas. Being humble connects you with others who don’t feel obligated to keep what they say around you. As a wise teacher once joked, “A soul is a terrible thing to waste.” You may not believe you have a soul, but you will feel it when it is hurt or worse, almost gone.

Those who really know are able to realize how little they know compared to what can be known. Consider one of the world’s greatest scientists, Sir Isaac Newton, when he wrote, “I don’t know what I can appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only as a boy playing by the seashore and amused in occasionally finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than usual, while the great ocean of truth was all unknown before me.

What we need today is less pride and more humility. Think of it this way. It is estimated that approximately 117 billion members of our species have been born. What makes you or someone else think you’re special?

The key is to lead humbly. Lao Tzu’s words ring true: “A leader is best when people hardly know he exists, when his job is done, his goal achieved, they will say: we did it ourselves.”

Practicing humility is a lifelong quest. Some claim they are humble when in reality they are simply using humility to gain power over others. True humility cannot be rented. It simply exists without much fanfare.

Indian teacher Shantideva’s words still ring true: “Instead of trying to cover the whole world in leather, put on sandals.” With sandals, you can imagine walking in someone else’s shoes. Think about how it might cure your pride and your sense of being superior to everyone else, knowing that you are more like them than different.

John C. Morgan is a teacher, writer and columnist. His weekly columns can be viewed at www.readingeagle.com

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