A television clip showed convicts from a facility in the San Francisco Bay area. They were working in the rich soil of a field on a hill south of the city, participating in a program of cultivating herbs to sell to local gourmet restaurants. Many of them were learning new gentleness and patience.
What does it mean to live as a member of the universal family? People talk about serving, giving back, making a difference, paying it forward, making the world a better place. Many people, earlier in life, were caught up in self-centered goals; but once they start volunteering as part of a class project in service learning or get involved with a community organization, or take part in any cooperative venture for the good of humanity and the planet, they get hooked. They make personal and wholehearted moral decisions and experience divinity flowing into their soul. They get to know and love people whom they had previously stereotyped. They make friends who share their commitment to a post-materialistic world. They choose a compassionate perspective, a merciful attitude, and the good feelings spread around with ripple effects.
No, it’s not all bliss. In a world struggling to evolve, there are problems, mistakes, organizational dysfunction, a lack of funds for worthy projects, people who are in it for their own glory, and volunteers with naïve ambitions about how much of the world they are going to transform. But on the whole, the outworking of the desire to do good to others is positive. Good stories abound because so much good is taking place.
I was fortunate. I experienced a balance of overall goodness in family life, with friends, in school and work, in my volunteer efforts to proclaim the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man, and above all in my spiritual communion with God. The disappointments along the way are woven into growth, and I can reinterpret them from a higher perspective.
My rule of living is the golden rule—treat others the way you want to be treated—is the principle of the practice of the family of God. This rule has both simplicity and complexity. Whether people belong to one religion or another or none at all, joy and love are there for all. And the more we live in love, the more love dominates our character.
At a time when the world looks like it is going rapidly downhill, many individuals and organization are working to slow the decline, to lead an advance where possible, and to keep bright the torch of faith, hope, and love.
Faith understands that behind the scenes are invisible, spiritual forces for good. Faith knows that the God whose indwelling spirit is usually so quiet also has awesome power, a destiny for humankind, and a sequence of things that we need to accomplish in cooperation with his eternal and wise design.
On the basis of this initial glimpse of goodness, additional questions arise. What depths in the golden rule are waiting to be discovered? How can we sharpen our moral reason? How do we find the will of God? What does it mean to love yourself? Is there a kind of perfection that we can experience in this life? How can the wisdom of the East and the wisdom of the West complement and strengthen each other in a new philosophy of living? Each question leads to answers, experience, and growth that raise new questions, and the learning and growth continue as far as the eye of the mind can see.
For me, participating in divine goodness is all about putting into action the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man, the universal family as revealed especially in the life and teachings of Jesus. What is your experience of goodness? Your concept?