America ought to be a place where the treatment of all people equally and with fairness as one of our highest goals. Our country is founded on that basic belief. We must fight for an equal opportunity for any individual to achieve their own goal. But we cannot and should not provide for, nor promise an equal outcome for all Americans. Every person has the right to dream their own dream and choose their own horizon. The height of the sky is an individual’s choice; reaching their unique horizon ought to be the principal result of an individual’s effort and not of their circumstance, nor as a gift from the government.
Unfortunately, opportunities are difficult to equalize. Employment and educational opportunities vary between states, cities, even neighborhoods, so balancing them throughout a country is almost an impossible task. The phrase, “born with a silver spoon,” is often used to describe people born to parents who are prosperous. People who are wealthy can provide more opportunities to their children, and they should. That is to be expected; more money can open more doors. However a parent’s lack of wealth does not condemn their children to a life of poverty, or struggle. Stories abound across the globe of people who have gained financial success through hard work, ingenuity, and sometimes just good luck. Wealth affects a person’s degree of opportunity but does not guarantee that movement up or down the income ladder will take place. We must admit though, that when born into poverty, often in an area where schools are lacking, finding that ladder, let alone climbing it is a grueling daily chore that overwhelms many people.
As individuals, we likely cannot change the economics of a neighborhood by ourselves or undo what was unjustly done years ago. There are important societal contracts that can be offered to every person regardless of any perceived economic position. They are compassion, love, kindness, and the absence of judgment. These traits are the foundation of humanity and must expand beyond borders, language and color.
Compassion because we must care about people. All people. Caring about people doesn’t mean you have to invite them to your home for family movie night, it means as another human being we care about your security, happiness and health. Caring is the starting place of positive change.
Kindness because while compassion moves our heart, kindness moves our feet. In my experience, kindness drives one to do something that may be uncomfortable but necessary to help another person. It doesn’t have to be a grand or bold gesture; it can be something simple like opening a door, carrying a bag, helping with yard work or taking an elderly friend shopping. Kindness transforms a bad day to a great one, connecting one heart to another.
Love because we are instructed that this one emotional and spiritual force is the key to our existence, and should be offered freely to all. It is easy to do with some people, but not so easy with others. I look at it this way: love creates a smile for a stranger, a tear of compassion during the nightly news, forgiveness when not deserved nor asked for, and warmth when returning home at the end of the day. True love is never deceitful or hurting. It always wants the best for you. Giving love opens your heart to receive more.
Judging another can act as an eraser to kindness, love and compassion; for how can we truly judge without bias? How does kindness give birth to judging? How does one judge love? Resisting the urge to judge one another is not easy, but it is necessary.
During the last decade, and especially the last few years, we have witnessed an increase of judgment and hate, as love, caring and compassion seemed to have taken the last train home while city streets burned. Violence and ignorance ruled the day; but we are not lost and never will be, because there exists more love than hate in the world, more kindness than hurt, more give than take. It is up to us to search daily for ways to show each other love, compassion and kindness; for we are above all else, human.
“Love the Lord your God with all heart and with all your soul and with all mind and with all your strength.
Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no greater commandments than these.”
Mark 12; 29-31