Friday, September 27, 2013

Give and take
By Editor
Tue 03 Sep. 2013, 14:00 CAT

"TODAY we have a situation in Zambia where not only politicians but successful business persons don't want to look back and ask how they got rich and think of helping those that are suffering. Those who are rich want to continue being rich, disregarding those that are poor." This is an observation of Ng'andu Magande, president of the National Movement for Progress.

What Magande is saying is an objective reality underlining the fact that we are all passengers of the same ubwato - this country of ours in which we all live.

A trifling minority is travelling in the comfort of luxurious cabins on this ubwato. They enjoy a nutritional, abundant and balanced diet as well as clean water supplies. They have access to sophisticated medical care here at home and abroad, where they are often evacuated.

The overwhelming and suffering majority on this ubwato of ours is travelling in conditions that resemble the terrible slave trade of previous centuries. That is, the majority of the passengers on this ubwato are crowded together in its dirty sections, suffering hunger, disease and helplessness.

Obviously, this ubwato is carrying too much injustice to remain afloat, pursuing an irrational and senseless route.

It is our collective duty to ensure that all passengers on this ubwato of ours can travel in conditions of solidarity, equity and justice.
And as we have repeatedly stated, we all know that this country of ours will not be a good place for any of us to live in unless it is a good place for all of us to live in.

We are reminded by the Bible: "When you have all you want, think what it is like to be hungry, what it is to be poor. Things can change in a single day; the Lord can act very quickly" (Sirach 18:25-26).

There is need to have concern for others. When we do not know someone or do not feel connected to an individual or group, we tend to overlook their needs. Yet the development of human society requires that people help each other.

We have mutual interests. The more we become interdependent, the more it is in our interest to ensure the wellbeing of others. And when we are motivated by wisdom and compassion, the results of our actions benefit everyone, not just our individual selves or some immediate convenience.

It is very difficult to achieve harmony in a nation without concern for others. So the practice of kindness is very, very important and very, very valuable in human society. Through kindness, we will get happiness and we will get genuine satisfaction.

Peaceful living is about trusting those on whom we depend and caring for those who depend on us. This is what brings harmony in a nation, in a community.

If we cherish others, then both others and ourselves, both deeply and superficially, will be happy. When we cherish ourselves more than others, we produce various types of suffering, both for ourselves and for those around us.

We need to start taking responsibility as individuals and as a collective for those in need. It is the nature of human beings to yearn for freedom, equality and dignity. If we accept that others have a right to peace and happiness equal to our own, do we not have a responsibility to help those in need? Of course, no one can afford to assume that someone else will solve their problems. Every individual has a responsibility to help guide our human family in the right direction. Good wishes are not sufficient.

We need to start working for the welfare of others. Our daily thoughts and actions should be directed towards the benefits of others. We should share the sufferings of our fellow human beings and practice compassion and tolerance, not only towards our beloved ones but towards those we detest.

It is a give-and-take situation. By showing concern for other people's welfare, sharing other people's suffering, and helping other people, ultimately one will benefit. If one thinks only of oneself and forgets about others, ultimately one will lose. Most of the good or beneficial effects that come about in the world are based on an attitude of cherishing others. The opposite is also true.

There is need to work for the welfare of all. With a pure heart, you can carry on any work and your profession becomes a real instrument to help your fellow citizens. Once you have pure and sincere motivation, all the rest follows. You can develop this right attitude towards others on the basis of kindness, love and respect, and on the clear realisation of the oneness of all human beings.

And true compassion is not just an emotional response but a firm commitment founded on reason. A truly compassionate attitude towards others does not change, even if they behave negatively. And to experience genuine compassion is to develop a feeling of closeness to others combined with a sense of responsibility for their welfare. Each of us in our own way can try to spread compassion into people's hearts.
And compassion compels us to reach out to all living beings, including our so-called enemies, those people who upset or hurt us. Irrespective of what they do to us, if we remember that all beings like us are only trying to be happy, we will find it much easier to develop compassion towards them.

Our doings and thinkings must be motivated by compassion for others. The way to acquire that kind of outlook is to accept the simple fact that whatever we desire is also desired by others.

And the development of a kind heart, or feeling of closeness to all human beings, does not involve any kind of religiosity we normally associate it with. It is for everyone irrespective of religion or political affiliation.

And here we are reminded of what Dr Ernesto Che Guevara once said: "At the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that a true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love. It is impossible to think of a genuine revolutionary lacking this quality."

Since at the beginning and end of our lives we are so dependent on others' kindness, how can it be that in the middle, we neglect kindness towards others?

As human beings, we are social creatures, and a concern for each other is the very basis of our life together.

For these reasons, we need to pay a lot of attention and act on what Magande has said.

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