ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY: Two Steps Forward
© Another Day in the Country
You know that old saying when people are trying to explain how progress is made, “Two steps forward and one step back.”
You save a little money thinking you’ll get ahead, and then something unexpectedly breaks and you have to get it repaired. Make a little progress and then there’s a setback.
We were watching a program on television the other evening about the history of the English monarchy, tracing more than a thousand years of progress and setbacks. It was better than most history lessons and it left me marveling that as a civilization, people were able to make any progress at all.
Power and greed were the most devastating attributes and the most common. One leader emerging after another, hungry for power, fighting another power-hungry source from one part of the world or another, plundering, killing, burning, wrecking, tearing down whatever had been built up, whether it was walls, castles or crops growing in fields and ultimately people.
Slowly but surely the map of progress was laid out by the historian. The common people standing up and demanding rights. The richest land barons cooperating briefly for some common goal. Every once in awhile a name stands out as a noble, God-fearing person who called for equality; but altruism seemed a rare commodity while accumulation of wealth and power was the driving force.
The scope of a thousand years was discouraging to hear because the common thread was disheartening.
“Surely as a species, humankind is better than this,” I said to myself. “It’s a miracle that we’ve made any progress at all.”
For us, living in America, we can chalk that progress up to greedy monarchs in search of more and more riches, sending ships into the unknown sea. They were eventually followed by some gutsy pilgrims who dreamed of religious freedom. They were starter seeds of this unique country, which freed itself from kings and forged a constitution of equality and freedom. In my book, that is truly miraculous!
This American experience is still a fledgling in comparison to the thousand years of English struggle that I was digesting in my historical binge; but we tend to find some of the same stories written on the pages of American history. The search for power and riches seems to be inherent in humanity.
Religious institutions played a huge role in the shaping of the world stage. If it wasn’t the actual leaders of a church calling out the rules of the game, it was some person invoking God’s name as a reason for whatever game plan for domination was currently in or out of vogue.
In historical pages, religious groups have a rather spotty reputation for doing good, unfortunately. The doctrine that Jesus taught to love your neighbor certainly didn’t become the worldview.
I have a hunch that the interpretation of “neighbor” might be one of those reasons that peace has not been achieved — even in little towns — let alone the world. And I can understand the dilemma. The ethnicity or belief system of my neighbor doesn’t bother me until that neighbor breaks the community rules. If they are cruel to their animals or their family, my tolerance, let alone love, goes right out the window. If they are disruptive, damage themselves or their environment, I want to move away as far as I can.
When will people begin to understand that what we do to ourselves either hurts or helps everyone and everything in the household, the neighborhood, the county, the world? Just as simple and just as complicated as that!
We are just that important. In our ignorance, we don’t understand how wide reaching our actions. The simplest thing — either out of kindness or cruelty — ripples out into the neighborhood like smoke in the air that we all breathe.
So let’s start with the premise that you don’t want to do harm to anyone or anything. Keep that uppermost in your mind as you go through the week. See if you notice any subtle shifts — maybe even something as small as a smile that’s returned or buoyancy in your heart, or a surge of hopefulness or happiness seeping in around the edges.
We live in a beautiful world — have you noticed recently how good it is to spend another day in the country?
Last modified March 27, 2019