"Oh shadow of saving sunlight, the window of my soul and instrument of my fate, fly me away from all earthly pain and distress and let me be enabled to look at life anew. Take me from the path of earthly danger and move me towards immortality in the heavens above. Let me settle on some distant moon and look down upon the earth below in all its radiant splendour as I gaze upon my past, but not yet for I still have much to do.
Was I to sit upon the moon and look down on all my earthy actions with total detachment, would the great, the good, the kind and the humane things I did for and towards others look as great, good, kind and humane from on high? Would I see that I did them for the benefit of myself as much as I did them to enhance the lives of others? Would I see that I liked being 'good' because it made me look 'good' in the eyes of others and thereby feel 'good' in myself? Was such a path I chose to walk paved with intentions of humility or martyrdom?
And would those things I did, and which at the time of their enactment seemed so wrong to do, be now judged as harshly as I once judged them? Were those battles I fought through a sense of righteous anger and the wars I engaged in between adversaries and attackers of my beliefs, family and country, really as wrong as I initially thought them to be?
Thank God it takes a God from on high to know the true difference between 'right' and 'wrong,' and the truth and falseness between 'consequence' and 'intent'. It was never meant for one man of this earth to stand in judgement over the deeds of another and to act as judge, jury and executioner. Neither was the earth designed to make half of the people on one side of its planet forever live in the shadow of the other half's brightness; placing some high and enabling them to look down on others.
All injustice shall one day be righted. Those who presently 'have not' shall 'have' and those whose life is spent looking up to others shall no longer need to elevate their gaze beyond their horizon.
I have often wondered if my lot in life had been to have been born the poorest of the poor in an underdeveloped and politically corrupt country, how would I have fared? Would my handicaps and social disadvantages have prevented me from 'finding me' and 'being me'? I'd like to think that material acquisitions, education levels, social position and group influence, or the lack of them, can never stop any person in any part of the world from finding themselves, discovering their purpose in life and becoming a good person in their dealings with others in the process of living their lives.
I must confess that while I've never had any conscious desire ever to look down on anyone, that sometimes by allowing oneself to be placed too high in another's esteem, can often lead others less worldly-able to feel more inferior than they might otherwise have felt, had they never known you in the first place!
I have often wondered why I found the 'Murder in the Cathedral' by T.S.Eliot a most captivating and thoughtful read. It is because the author poses one of life's conundrums that has always fascinated me. The book tells the story of the assassination of Archbishop Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170, at the altar steps. Prior to his assassination, Thomas Becket gave his last sermon which referred to possible martyrdom for one's religion. He was, subsequently murdered in the Cathedral shortly after and was later canonised.
Many thought his final sermon to be too provocative for the King's barons at the time and invited/incited his own martyrdom. The question that T.S.Eliot's words posed in his dramatic play was, 'Is the greatest of all treason is to do the right deed for the wrong reason'.
My father was the most humble man I ever knew and his oldest son (myself) will clearly acknowledge the sin of 'Pride' as being the greatest of my sins and ironically, the least desirable side of my character traits. I cannot deny that there has always been a burning desire inside me to be the first, the best at anything and everything I do. The question which has always represented the conundrum of my life is, 'Why do I behave thus?' Do I do those things in my belief that my efforts will eventually 'pay off' on this earth? Or do I believe that if I remain a 'good person' I shall receive the just rewards for my efforts through my eventual entrance into Heaven and eternal happiness on the 'Day of Judgement?' And, is one of these motives any less/more worthy than the other?
I know in my heart of hearts that the only way any person can escape this greatest of life's conundrums is to consciously and unconsciously do the right thing in any set of circumstances without fear or favour, for no other reason than to believe it to be the right thing to do!' If there is a Heaven, therefore, do not all followers of a God who do good throughout their lives, start off with less chance of ever arriving at the Pearly Gates than any agnostic who lives their life doing the right thing for no other reason than they believe it to be the right thing to do? " William Forde, March 13th, 2018.