Our World and US
Mary Anderson – the UK
When we look around us, read a newspaper or listen to the news on a computer, television, or radio, what strikes us most in today’s world? Perhaps it is the amount of verbal and physical violence perpetrated against innocent and defenseless humans—especially minority sections of the population—as well as animals—that seems to dominate the headlines. The apparent injustice involved in all this may strike us and, at times, we may feel we are indeed living in Kali Yuga, the Dark Age, which will not end for a very long time. On the other hand, Kali Yuga is said to be the age in which we can learn most how to grow in insight, wisdom, compassion, and love; and also in the ability, indeed sometimes the urge, to become active against the evils of the age.
Organizations, like the United Nations, have been formed to combat evil. To them we owe the statement to the effect that evil begins in the mind. Should we not examine our own thinking and feeling, our reactions to the evils we hear of and perhaps witness? Is there a danger that we may be creating and fostering negative forces by becoming excited and taking sides? But is it right to attack violence with violent thoughts—to crusade with violence in thought or even action against those who are prejudiced, biased, excitable, sometimes easily led, and therefore inconsiderate? Should we not rather pity them for the unhappiness which violent feelings and thoughts create in those who express and even think and feel violence?
Perhaps those who are responsible for injustice and cruelty are more to be pitied than those who suffer—not only for the reason that their karma will catch up with them— but their negative or abusive thoughts, words, and actions make very unhappy people of them:
Who toiled a slave may come anew a prince
For gentle worthiness and merit won.
Who ruled a king may wander earth in rags,
For things done and undone.
(Edwin Arnold, Light of Asia, Book 8)
We all differ from each other. Understanding these differences can widen not only our hearts, but also our minds. Those who have quarreled with their near and dear are well aware of this and of the joy that comes if they can and do make it up and know true brotherly feelings again.
Members of the Theosophical Society are all aware of its First Object: “To form a nucleus of the Universal Brotherhood of Humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste or color.” Do we, within the Society, form such a brotherhood in our lodges, for example? When I was first living in Switzerland, I went with a group of our lodge members to a TS meeting in another town. At her request, an office colleague of mine also came along. She remarked on “how nice” we all were to each other. This was certainly the case. In our Lodge, indeed at that time in the whole Section, there was friendliness and brotherhood. Such relationships indeed go to form a nucleus, which is a center from which growth is possible.
Whether we are TS members or not, we can spread a feeling of brotherhood—a “fellow feeling”—through our attitude towards individuals and acquaintances whom we meet for the first time. A person’s attitude—even if not always expressed in action—really matters. (And if it is strong enough, and if occasion arises, it will express itself in action.) Many members owe their first interest in the Theosophical Society not to reading a book or attending a lecture, but to the brotherhood expressed in individual members or within a lodge.
How then can we contribute to making the world a better place? If we can act helpfully, by all means let us do so, but we can also act and help through our thoughts, our emotions, our attitude. The first thing to do may be to observe ourselves, to catch ourselves unaware—in other words, to be wide awake, aware of our own thoughts and feelings, especially in regard to what is negative in today’s world. We should avoid blaming others, but try to understand how difficult it is in today’s environment to remain kind and understanding. Those who lack understanding may laugh at us. But, there and there, we may plant a seed—a seed which, after many days or lives, may blossom in understanding and affection.