As far as the eye can see, we observe divisiveness, separation and isolation. Fear is the greatest enemy; the father of all suffering, and love is the only cure for humanity’s great afflictions. Anyone who looks deeply and honestly at the world today is surely confronted with the grisly realities of human life on earth; realities from which most people try to remain unattached. The pain of humanity’s most maltreated victims echoes deep within each of us, in the form of our shame or ignorance. Those who suffer are always there, pleading for help, and the voice of reason within each of us tells us to reach out and help. We must not ignore this voice, for it is the very anchor of conscience in the turbulent seas of suffering, which suggests there may still be something noble in the human soul. Listening to this voice is the last, thin thread that gives us hope that we are, in fact, not beasts.
There are too many problems in the world to enumerate: government abuses, genocide, starvation, human trafficking, slavery, economic and currency manipulation, usury, false shortages, resource hoarding, unjust wars, class warfare, arms proliferation, the molecular pollution of the biosphere, corruption, child labour, sexual slavery, rape and vicious crimes against women and children. In the context of extreme injustice, some of the problems we face, are trivial by comparison. It is easy to believe that the large and distant problems do not apply to us, but make no mistake, we are only momentarily in the eye of the hurricane, from which no one can escape through vain indifference.
So what is the state of the human family at large?
The realities of human suffering are utterly monstrous. Even the “first-world” so-called bastions of prosperity, justice and law, are rife with corruption hidden in plain sight, which has been carefully crafted by the unwitting populace’s hidden masters. Orwellian times of universal deceit are upon us, where many an injustice, is presented as solution and gift. It seems that everywhere you look, you see the same tyranny wearing different costumes; some more transparent than others, but underneath, it is the same dark and selfish spirit.
The overt and subtle crimes committed against people around the world are enough to send us desperately searching for the solid ground of meaning and sanity in an insane world, for malevolence and apathy of ‘sane’ people is the truest form of insanity. What do we do when the world seemingly lacks the wisdom to live in the grace and peace, choosing instead to exist in a state of dis-ease? How can we break free from the chains which shackle each soul through the binding links of fear, greed and indifference? There is no problem that greater consciousness and compassion, enjoined with positive resolve of will cannot solve. The voice of reason tells us, that while great horrors exist in the world, we are all one, and there is still hope through love. Love and respect changes everything.
Rabbi Haim of Romshishok often began his talks with the following story:
I once ascended to the firmaments. I first went to see Hell and the sight was horrifying. Row after row of tables were laden with platters of sumptuous food, yet the people seated around the tables were pale and emaciated, moaning in hunger. As I came closer, I understood their predicament.
Every person held a full spoon, but both arms were splinted with wooden slats so he could not bend either elbow to bring the food to his mouth. It broke my heart to hear the tortured groans of these poor people as they held their food so near but could not consume it.
Next I went to visit Heaven. I was surprised to see the same setting I had witnessed in Hell-row after row of long tables laden with food. But in contrast to Hell, the people here in Heaven were sitting contentedly talking with each other, obviously sated from their sumptuous meal.
As I came closer, I was amazed to discover that here, too, each person had his arms splinted on wooden slats that prevented him from bending his elbows. How, then, did they manage to eat?
As I watched, a man picked up his spoon and dug it into the dish before him. Then he stretched across the table and fed the person across from him! The recipient of this kindness thanked him and returned the favor by leaning across the table to feed his benefactor.
I suddenly understood. Heaven and Hell offer the same circumstances and conditions. The critical difference is in the way the people treat each other.
I ran back to Hell to share this solution with the poor souls trapped there. I whispered in the ear of one starving man, “You do not have to go hungry. Use your spoon to feed your neighbor, and he will surely return the favor and feed you.”
“You expect me to feed the detestable man sitting across the table?” said the man angrily. “I would rather starve than give him the pleasure of eating!”
I then understood God’s wisdom in choosing who is worthy to go to Heaven and who deserves to go to Hell.
There are many worlds we can create. One world is nothing short of hell on earth. It is a place where the unlimited creativity of humanity has been bridled and abducted by fear, creating a real-life nightmare of cruelty and indifference so chilling that death itself has become a welcomed and kind benefactor. The other world is a world held in your hands. You and those who love peace are the keepers of the bright torch of hope, and the guardians of its tendril flames that burn in the hearts of every soul throughout the world, no matter how oppressed and downtrodden. Those who see the world through the lens of love are the true visionaries. They carry the vision for all who yearn in their deepest sinews, that all children would live in a world of limitless possibilities, where each soul could reach the heights of their potential to unconditionally love, and to be loved unconditionally. The only difference between these two worlds, that will ever exist – “is you”!