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18 February 2016


Act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood

When a personal tragedy strikes us, we feel a personal pain. A sense of total hopelessness. There is nothing we can do. And we may wonder how, at such a time, the world can ignore us. Why don’t others share our pain? Don’t they care?

It’s not that others don’t care, it’s just that they don’t know. In times of personal pain, we realise that – from a worldly point – we are almost totally alone. It makes us aware of our tenuous hold on our short lives. No one knows what might happen tomorrow.

But whenever a national or world tragedy strikes, the pain is shared by us all. People protect and comfort each other. They rally around. And then we realise that others do care.

Despite the presence of evil and the ease with which it can raise its ugly head, the world is more good than bad. It is filled with people who care.

We are all deeply moved by the terrible events in America. To see newsreaders, who are usually so calm, become visibly shaken, makes us realise just how deeply we all feel the pain of others.

This feeling is called EMPATHY which is the heart of an ethical life. Empathy is “feeling with others”.

But, just as with a personal tragedy, it seems there is nothing we can do about a world tragedy. We feel a collective hopelessness, a shared sadness.

This is our “shared brotherhood”.

The first Article of the United Nations’ Declaration of Human Rights requires us all to “act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

It does not mean brotherhood only in times of tragedy. It means ALL the time.

So, maybe there is something we can do.

These events can remind us that the care and compassion we feel now should be something we feel all the time, no matter what is happening. Like a marriage contract that talks about sickness and health, good times and bad times, we can stick together and care about each other. We can strive hard to do the right thing. All the time.

The forces of evil cannot defeat the collective good in the world – the true brotherhood we all share.

All we have to do is show it. All the time.

Neil Jenman

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