Here is what I am contemplating these days- how do you live your convictions? Truly, if you think about some of the things that you believe to be important, do you live by those beliefs? At the least, are you trying to get to a place where you could?
I believe a lot of things- charity is good, cars should be used sparingly, patience with children is necessary, eating meat is questionable, recycling should always happen.... How much of this do I live? I yell at my kids, I eat meat, I rarely give to charity (I do not feel that donating unused clothing to Goodwill to be charity). On the upside, I recycle everything I can and I drive very little (sometimes not at all for days at a time). None of these are big things, they should all be doable without breaking a sweat, and yet I do not do them all.
So how do people follow through with the big things? How do monks live a life of celibacy? How do people keep hunger strikes? Or closer to home, how do I live my life in a way that elevates the lives of others instead of exploiting the random nature of geography or political climate? Is it enough to grow my own food (I don't, yet)? If I buy my clothes second hand does this really help?
Could I give someone a kidney? Hell, could I cut off my hair to make wigs for cancer patients? I have difficulty giving my time. In fact, I hate it. For as long as I can remember I have been very protectionist of my time, and yet my time is probably my most valuable asset. My time is the one thing I have that could probably make a real difference in the world around me. When I think of devoting that time to school groups or neighborhood societies or charity walk-a-thons I start to get nervous- my time given to others who have expectations to live up to and rules to follow. In some ways, it would be easier to give a kidney- a finite event that has a distinct beginning and a distinct end after which I am no longer needed.
Were someone to ask me if I feel that I am a 'good' person, I would have to admit to being on the fence with that concept. Can I apply that concept to myself in the face of what is obviously quite self-serving behavior on my part? Whether I should even try to apply it or not is a completely different conversation and I am not going there, tonight.
Perhaps I do live by my convictions- I will extend myself only so far for the benefit of others and the world. So then, I have to decide if I am comfortable with my convictions. Are you? A conundrum to be sure.