Friday, August 26, 2005
One of the very first theorists I studied upon entering my tracked college Sociology/Psychology courses was an eminent psychologist of the late 1800s by the name of William James. He was a scientist/theorist who was an advocate of experience as the basic route to human knowledge and understanding and he often encouraged his patients to do at least one good deed every day, just to stay "morally fit." And he was a theorist who advanced the concept of the "moral muscles;" a person becomes strong psychologically by resisting life's small temptations and by doing deeds that an average person might otherwise find tedious, inconsequential, or even distasteful.
In the 70s, we spent our time trying to "teach the world to sing in perfect harmony." In the 80s, we occupied ourselves with "random acts of kindness." And in the 90s, we chose to "think globally, act locally." Any way you slice it, it's all about exercising those moral muscles we possess. Collectively, we can't seem to go through any decade without consciously or unconsciously creating or resurrecting a movement to massage and stress our moral muscles. And thank goodness we can't seem to go without that need.
We are an interesting bundle of chemistry. We are so quick to physically wound one another in the name of geographic boundaries and political agendas. And at the same time, we are so quick to rush to the aid strangers across the globe who are devastated by natural disasters. We are the ultimate paradox; too often wanting to hurt and just as often, needing to help and heal. Are you a similar paradox, my friend?
Take a moment to read the last line in the first paragraph above. And then answer me this: Is there any task that could be tedious, inconsequential or distasteful if it touches and lifts the soul and heart of another? I didn't think so. And it's because of your answer - and the answers of so many others - that human life and hope still exist.
Do yourself and those around you a favor. Make a concerted effort to do that one conscious good deed each day. Be mindful and purposeful in exercising your moral muscles. It might very well be the healthiest thing you can do for yourself today.
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