Thursday, April 28, 2011

Wired to care.

I had a fascinating conversation this week with a colleague in the non-profit world about what drives us as human beings to help, volunteer, donate and reach out to others.

At times the need seems so deep - genocide, crimes against humanity, gender violence around the world, preventing child abuse and sexual trafficking, helping sick kids, clean water, ending poverty, fighting disease, promoting health, disaster relief, feeding the hungry, concern for animals, saving the planet.... The list of causes and needs could go on and on. Sometimes this list grows so long in our consciousness that it is overwhelming.

I believe human beings are good by nature and that a caring, compassionate spirit is inside the real us - although it can often be buried under a hardend facade or a cynical exterior. It never ceases to amaze me how we humans rise up and help another in need. Often I wonder, though, if folks just get saturated with sorrow and tune out the images, the news reports and the appeals for help. We ask oursleves, why should I care about something happening on another continent? Or there is no point - my contribution or time will just be a drop in the bucket so I am going to hide away from the pain. .

Then something happens- a tornado, earthquake, diagnosis, a photo of a starving child whose eyes haunt us or perhaps a news story on genocide in Darfur and the enormity of the loss of life strikes us. Of course we care, even if it happens across the globe. Why, because we see ourselves in another's eyss. There except for one strand of DNA or a twist of fate and that could be us. Sometimes I wonder if it is God's way of reminding us to be grateful for our own lives. I read a great quote the other day from a woman who was sharing the great advice her mother had given her - she said if you are depressed or sad go out and do somthing for someone else, it will put your problems in perspective.

On a deeper level, I think that at some point of our core we remember in these moments that we are all connected - at a soul level, at a cellular level and through our shared energy. Science is now proving this energetic connection between life. There is an amazing new documentary out called "I Am" which really demonstrates that physics prove that fundamental connection between us and that we are wired to care for one another. Compassion and cooperation are part of our DNA. I have just read about the film but can't wait to see it. I too believe that we are wired to care. The need seems overwhelming, but is it really? If all of us tapped into this wired reality of our hearts and spirits, couldn't we collectively make a huge dent in this pile of need?

That "wiring" is why we keep giving, volunteering, helping our neighbors and supporting causes that touch our hearts. It is also probably why is feels so good to help another person, be generous or to do he right thing - we are acting on our true nature, honoring our connections and that brings us joy. Think about it, have you ever met a happy person who also happens to be selfish, mean or uncaring - instead, they are miserable. Isn't it wonderful to know we are wired to care?

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