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…Is paved for each of us by the designs and urging of our own egos. The soul blesses. The ego condemns. The soul lifts up. The ego tears down. The soul sees the beauty contained within each moment and within every circumstance. The ego derides the ugliness of this world and makes no attempt to heal it.

The battle for good versus evil is not waged out there in some indefinable cosmos, separate from the everyday, separate from the individuals who live within it, but within each of us at every moment, with every compassionate thought or thoughtless remark. By the time we take up arms against each other and face our brothers and sisters across a field of battle, our weapons drawn, the war is already lost. Evil has won. Every step we take towards conflict lessens the fragile thread of peace we are each entrusted with. It is not the nameless they that lead us down the road to conflict and a world filled with darkness and despair, but the screeching, demanding voice of the ego within telling us we deserve more than they, we are right, they are wrong. When we surrender to its incessant demands we have failed not only ourselves, but the world around us and everyone and every living creature that depends upon it.

So today, let us find that fragile thread of peace and light within and vow to nourish it. When our ego insists we are right, let us at least consider the possibility we might be the one who is in error. If we still believe we are right, let us then consider whether or not waging the battle confronting us is worth the pain accompanying it, either to ourselves or another.   When our ego seeks to condemn, let us put ourselves in our brother’s shoes. When we are surrounded by negativity, anger, panic, condemnation, let us strive to be a voice for gentle reason, rather than escalate the chaos around us and thereby pulling our world into a place of deepening darkness.

In baseball, four singles have the same result on the ultimate score at the end of the game as one spectacular homerun. So too the adage of the tortoise and the hare. Just because we are not out there committing magnificent works of either good or evil doesn’t mean our small contributions in one direction or another do not impact the ultimate outcome of the game. Only in this case, the game is life itself and the world we leave behind for future generations. It is far easier to tear down than build up, far easier to destroy than create, to hate than to love. Confronting and healing the differences between us takes much more courage than jumping on the bandwagon of war and destruction. Eventually we must turn away from our gleeful descent towards greater darkness and our casual acceptance of ever greater violence and begin the steep climb out of the hole we’ve dug for ourselves.

Is the hell we envision beyond this world really worse than the hell we’ve created upon and within it? Is the prospect of eternal flames worse than the actuality of hatred, war, pollution, starvation, violence, and the abuse of the innocent? We keep thinking it can’t get worse…that we can’t get worse, and that is the seduction of evil. The belief that if I allow myself the indulgence of giving in to a petty act of cruelty or revenge it will not make any difference in the grand scheme of things. No one’s really going to get hurt. No one will ever know.

A step in the wrong direction, even a small one, is a step away from the right path. How many more wrong steps can we afford before the earth itself simply surrenders beneath the weight of its own inevitable destruction at our hands?

We are all called to light the way for each other, to be a voice of tender compassion in a world of seemingly endless callousness and indifference. Let us not surrender to our own disregard for the beauty of the life we’ve been given, but instead strive to heal the shadows within and then extend the new light we create within us to heal the world around us.

Each of us has a responsibility to be a part of the solution. Just remember the battle is not waged out there by others actively engaged in the fight, but within the souls and spirits of each us to make the world a better place for all of us.