The courage to create a better world

 ~a column by Colleen O’Brien

I heard such an interesting talk the other day that had to do with courage that I asked my friend who gave the speech honoring two Black elders on Martin Luther King holiday if I could have a copy for my column. He obliged; below are parts of what Jaha Cummins had to say about courage.

“Being that we are in the presence of two men who have embodied the spirit of courage in their lives, I would like to speak briefly on individual and collective courage,” said Jaha.

“This courage that I speak of is the courage to do what has the power to create a better world. When each of us recognizes our individual responsibility to each other, the world becomes a very different place.

“Each person is free to bring his particular gifts and talents and share them with others. We as community, nation, world require the creative contribution of every single person for us to achieve our greatest potential as community, nation, world.

“Many in a nation of 300 million – in a world of more than 7 billion – think that it is impossible for us to thrive harmoniously.”

He talked for a while about how we are virtually walking examples of a reality in which every “individual” works for the whole. That reality is our bodies. They are made up of many more individuals – 37.2 trillion cells –than there are persons on the planet. And these individuals, these cells, that make up the world within us, unlike us, have a mutual goal to operate in harmony with each other.

“This [our cellular level] is an environment of interconnectedness and mutual bestowal onto each other. In simple terms,” Jaha said, “it is a biological environment based on dealing well with other cells.”

Jaha went on to say that the difference between the human body and its interconnected global body is that human beings, unlike cells, have free will – the choice to live only for oneself or to live for the benefit of the world. For cells, they’re just doing what comes naturally to benefit the whole. For humans, it takes courage to live a life that is of benefit to others.

“The individual can begin to consciously determine the purpose of her actions,” Jaha said. “Action plus the consideration of others equals altruism.

“One has a choice of either action plus egoistic intent or action plus altruistic intent. The latter – action with altruism – has positive results.

“How we relate to each other is either the root cause of all crises or the root solution to these crises. We are in a closed-loop system. Any interaction will ultimately be felt by all within the system.

“Changing one’s attitude from that of self-concern affects the entire system positively, ensuring the survival of the system. To ensure our survival, why not focus on and operate from global concern rather than self-concern? Worth a try, huh?”

Jaha ended with. “Asante sana.” That’s Swahili for thanks a lot.

 Forty-four-year-old Jaha Cummins returned from Japan two years ago to the town in which he grew up – now a big town of 16,000 compared to the few thousand it was when he left. He was a book publisher in Asia for 20 years and maintains that business from afar now. He is on the city council in Punta Gorda FL. His name, Jaha, means “glory.”


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