We would all agree there are many
choices to be made in today’s complicated world. There are many causes
that demand our support: the environment, human rights, disarmament,
gun control, animal extinction, drugs, famine. The list is long and
seems to grow longer each day as though our capacity to create problems
far outdistances our ability to solve them. As individuals the decision
to support one cause over another is difficult, and hard to justify,
when all are inter-related and of global concern. Add to this our daily
struggle to make ends-meat, raise children, juggle a career, pay bills,
and this task becomes almost insurmountable. In this light, many opt to
support no cause rather accept the responsibility of tackling any. We
surround ourselves in the ‘here and now’ to avoid facing ‘there and
later’. For us, ignorance, complacency and indifference have become far
easier costumes to don than commitment.
We are the fortunate ones though. We
have the ability, the capacity, the time and certainly the finances to
speak for change. Yet we remain silent. We ensconce ourselves in front
of the television and watch soap operas, game shows and sports events
as if there were some measure of our reality. We proudly wash cars
while complaining about the crises of energy and the price of gas. We
pay lip service to recycling and believe we are doing our bit to save
the planet. We see the words poverty, AIDS, hate, famine, torture,
ethnic cleansing daily on the television and they remain only words
despite the cruel pictures.
And I have asked myself a hundred times is there not something desperately wrong here?
Apparently not. It seems we have far
more important worries: what to watch on television, the brief for
tomorrow’s meeting, the grocery list, whose sleeping with who at the
office or in the neighbourhood, what brilliant and original new thing
our entertainment ‘stars’ are up to, what time to serve dinner, et
cetera ad infinitum nauseam.
Despite our education we remain a
tuned-out people. We are mesmerized by the material-oriented,
keep-up-with-the-Jones’ world we’ve created and by the infantile idea
that nothing of matter exists beyond ourselves and our front door step.
I do not have the magic key that will
unlock the riddle of commitment, or rather, our lack of it. Perhaps our
time here should not be measured by how much wealth we amass, nor by
how much power, status and influence we acquire and wield, nor by how
many possessions or properties we leave to those behind. There is no
room in a coffin for these things, and anyway, they are a poor
reflection of what we achieved while here. A far more important measure
of our existence ought to lie in how we treat our planet and those less
fortunate then ourselves, and what we try to do to better both.
We have forgotten this somewhere along
the line. In living our tiny lives with their tiny problems in our tiny
communities, we have lost sight of the vast vulnerable world existing
outside our immediate view. A world that demands our commitment.
It seems to me that before making any other choices this one must come first: we must chose commitment, and in doing so we must recognize commitment is not a word, it is an action.