Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Before a commercial airliner takes off, the flight attendant conducts brief safety training for the passengers. Invariably, the flight attendant will instruct passengers, in the event of a loss of cabin pressure and deployment of the oxygen masks, to secure the passenger’s own mask properly before aiding another passenger, even a small child. The airlines follow this protocol because without proper self-care, the passenger may find it impossible to assist anyone else, even a child.

The Golden Rule (love others as you love yourself) is a common ethical thread in all of the world’s great religions. Anything more than cursory analysis reveals that a person’s love for others is no greater than the person’s self-love. Evolutionary biologists emphasize that genes drive a human, like any other animal, to care for itself. Religion does not require us to act against our genes; instead, healthy religion encourages us to love others as we love ourselves. Many scientists even posit a genetic basis for reciprocal altruism, that is, humans are hard-wired to love others.

One important implication of the Golden Rule is that a person must accept help from others. The American emphasis on individualism and personal responsibility can make this difficult. Giving assistance is easier than accepting assistance, whether the aid is financial or a gift of time.

This Lent, you may want to consider:

·        Do you exercise proper and sufficient self-care? In what ways might you more fully care for yourself? When should you prioritize self-care over care for others?

·        Conversely, do you prioritize self over others in unhealthy, selfish ways?

·        When is it appropriate and healthy to accept help from others? Do you accept that help? Does your pride diminish your ability to live a fulfilling, abundant life?

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