Sunday, May 07, 2006

Time is Priceless

A very rich, powerful and famous man was near death. He had all the material possessions most people spend their lives trying to gain: money, castles, pleasure boats, planes, a beautiful wife...

Yet, as the end of his life approached, his last words from his deathbed were, “All my possessions for a moment of time.” The wealthy man now saw time as the most precious thing in the world. Unfortunately, all his material possessions could not buy time.

Idleness and foolishness in life can steal our time. And since thieves are attracted to valuable things, it’s no surprise that idleness and foolishness launch continual attempts to steal our time. But if we can spot thieves before they reach our valuables, we may be able to do whatever is necessary to prevent the theft. The crucial question then becomes, “How do we stop thieves of time?”

Before committing our time to any activity, we should ask two simple questions. The first question is, “What will be the fruit of this activity in five years?” That is, five years from today will it matter if I do this activity or if I don’t? If the answer is, “Il won’t matter,” or if there may be negative consequences, we need to commit our time to something else.

When I examine my own life over the past five years, I am sometimes frustrated that I don’t see greater results today. But when I ask myself what will be important in another five years, what comes to my mind is my three children and other children around me.

Today my children, ages ten and under, are young enough that their hearts are naturally tender toward compassion and wisdom. In the next five years I may never speak to halls full of people, write a best-selling book or do any of the other things that are mark of “success.” But if five years from now my children and other children around me are taking meaningful and thoughtful actions in the world, I will be a success, no matter what else does or does not happen!

But in order to help my children learn to take meaningful and thoughtful actions in the world, I need to spend time with them. And that doesn’t always happen naturally. Rather, I must train myself to spend time thoughtfully and intentionally, remembering that some day I will have to give account for “every idle word and action.”

The second question is, “What will it matter in eternity?” We receive just one life that soon will be over, and only what we’re doing for all the future generations will last. We need to invest time, which we can’t keep anyway, to make an eternal treasure that we will never lose. Think about it—eternity is a lot longer than the years that we will spend on earth. So doesn’t it make sense that we focus our time on guiding our children toward important universal values such as love, compassion, wisdom and respect for life, the things that matter for eternity?

Together We Can Achieve Peace

Here is a simple notion: Children are the foundation of human security. The world cannot build a peaceful and stable society without teaching its youngest citizens to respect differences and live together as one. Yet, this basic idea is ignored by many adults around the world.

Every day, many children are the victims of violence, abuse, bullying, sexism, discrimination and racism. Also, many children are brainwashed and forced by cruel adults to take part in bloody wars for ridiculous reasons. And life can be awful when children are manipulated to commit crimes against humanity.

Building peace means upholding and defending moral rules — not preaching hatred, or encouraging violence. The basic need to achieve peace and basic moral rules are the same everywhere. The right of cultures to peaceful coexistence, and the belief that all men and women are created equal are essential and universal. 

With the globalization advancing, more and more people from different ethnic groups are being called to live together. In order to live in harmony, adults need to think creatively and act concertedly, encouraging children to be broad-minded, to accept individuality, and to act sincerely from the heart rather than from customs. Teaching children to be kind not only to their close friends and people they know, but to all the people in the world should be the basic condition and the goal to bring peace to the world.

We must live out the change we wish to see in children. We must be tolerant and nonviolent because as the Indian spiritual leader Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit.” I strongly believe that the terms “democratic spirit” and “peace” are synonymous.

It’s very important that we teach children a global ethic as follows:
- We all have a responsibility to work for a better global order.
- Our involvement in the preservation of human rights, freedom, justice, peace and
the earth is absolutely necessary.
- We should not consider ourselves better than others.
- What we do not wish done to ourselves, we should not do to others.
- No one has the right physically or psychologically to torture, injure, much less kill, any other human being.
- No people, no state, no ethnic group, no religion has the right to hate others.
- We must commit to a life of truthfulness, and treat everyone with respect.  

Let's promote positive behavior among children and offer them more opportunities for mutual spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. The values we give children should transcend differences like looks, gender, religion, social background, ethnic background, nationality and race. We should focus on the basics of peace, love, equality, authenticity, brotherhood and freedom. We all have to get together and build a peaceful world!