When the trials of our lives ebb, the bounds of our egos shrink back to the little problems. When your health crisis is over, you focus back on your weight. When the major threats to your business subside, you resume stewing over the small difficulties in daily work. When everyone in your family is well, you go back to the old arguments that come out of simple differences of opinion. In good times and bad, most of us feel equally plagued by the perceived difficulties that confront us.
One way to step outside of our egos is through consideration of the tribe. In that global consciousness, we can also choose to focus on the negative things – the corruption, the greed, and the pollution. The imperfections are huge and varied. The battle lines range from human trafficking and war to the wicked marriage of government and industry, from climate change to the inhumane treatment of animals, and from societal indoctrination to the insufficiency of our educational systems. No matter how many battles are won by warriors of spirit, there’s always more work to be done.
There are heavy parallels in the works of self improvement and activism. It would be wrong to disparage the work to be done during times of peace as less worthy than work to be done during times of war, but it’s equally oblivious to always feel an incredible pressure and discontent from your journeying. We as a people will always be called back to fight, both in our lives and as members of tribes. There will always be more work. That’s the nature of this world, we are given the materials with which to work on ourselves. But also… you have provisioned as if by the mightiest of kings.
This place is supplied with warmth and light from a perfectly-distanced sun; we live on a grand stage where the fertile fields underfoot are ringed with an abundance of water and ceilinged by a giant dome of air. Beauty abounds in the woods and in the desert. Each night a crown of stars wheels overhead. The plants serve our kind, supplying us with food, clothing, and shelter. The earth serves our kind, supplying us with building materials and bases of industry. The beasts serve us too in labor and food. Huge resources have been scattered all about us. While we’ve grievously abused our positions – nature attends to us still, and has always done so.
Beyond nature, we have also come to a time when many of us can hop on a plane or a boat and travel across the entire world. You can go to a grocery store and simply buy food that other people have grown and delivered to your location. You can put a letter in the mailbox and people will courier your messages, most places are relatively free of the dangers that threatened our ancestors, you can take your pick from any number of religious and philosophical positions, and you can use the Internet to dig deeply and learn about nearly anything you care to learn about. And on and on – the streets are paved for you, easy transport has already been arranged, and you can choose to work in any number of industries doing nearly any type of work imaginable.
You and I have been favored by being born into a position of vast worldly provision.
Why do you suppose such incredible wealth and luxury has been given to you? Why are you clothed, fed, and sheltered? Why are you living in a time where spirituality and intellectual knowledge is widely available? Why have the people banded together at least enough to cover your base struggles of existence, in this world that is so perfectly suitable for you?
Stop for a moment, before you wade back into the battlefield of your life with the million little mundane concerns. Stop and look at this world with all its natural beauty. Behold the glory, and be grateful.
Stop for a moment, before you rage back against the unfairness of society and corruption of the systems. Stop and see what comfort and leisure those who have come before and your current companions have created for you on top of what was originally provided. Behold the community, and be grateful.
Can you see the worldly provision? The base from which you reach upward was largely given to you, and it has such great height! Think – all this, just to give you a ground from which to wage your struggles.
Think – all this, so that you can do your important work. All you have to do is decide – what is your important work?