It’s cool to care about other people. It’s cool to not be greedy and want nothing but money and more stuff. It’s cool to want our country to be more compassionate. It’s cool to be environmentally conscious. It’s cool to give. It’s cool to want for others what we want for ourselves (and help them get it!). It’s cool to be smart. It’s cool to be religious without being a hateful hypocrite. It’s cool to think for yourself. It’s cool to live and let live. It’s cool to not be a selfish, loud mouth jerk.
If you’re not cool and you still plan on clinging to the Me Me Me era, ignoring the homeless and mentally ill on the street as you walk by while blaming them for their fate, or referring to single mothers who are stuck in poverty as “welfare queens”, or throwing trash and cigarette butts out of your car window without giving it a single thought, or hiring immigrants to clean your house, mow your lawn, or raise your kids while referring to them as lazy Mexicans who are taking American jobs, or looking for opportunities to sue somebody since you’re pissed off that you haven’t won the lottery so you can assume your rightful place amongst the 1%, or blaming the government for everything you don’t approve of, etc., you’re going to find yourself outnumbered.
The government is not the problem. Greed is.
People can’t have it both ways – you can’t think of yourself as a generous, compassionate person and then insist that everybody be on their own, that the sufferings of others are not your problem, or that government take the rap. Tossing a few bucks into the collection plate on Sunday morning doesn’t buy you redemption from being a jerk all week.
If you’re teetering on the edge of greed and your conscience is getting to you, yet you don’t know where to go for rehabilitation, here is a simple list of Dos and Don’ts to help you learn how to make it cool to care. This is my version of Desiderata.
Do be mindful of what you let come out of your mouth or put in writing on the internet
Do live your days so you can look at yourself in the mirror at the end of each day and be proud of what you see
Do step out of your own comfort zone to befriend others from different cultures, classes, etc.
Do pause long enough to get outside of yourself to reach out to others
Do get involved in your community
Do be sensitive and proactive to injustice
Do support public education, even if you don’t have kids in the system. A well educated citizenry benefits us all
Do keep your mind open. If the actions of others aren’t hurting you or anybody else, what’s it to you? If you’re offended by another’s looks, traditions, language, sexual orientation, etc., get over it
Do stay engaged politically. If the rights of others are being infringed upon, speak up!
Do take an inventory of yourself and evaluate whether or not you have been taking credit for attributes you never earned - such as being white, or being born into a family of means which automatically guaranteed you a spot at the front of the line. Remember this whenever you find yourself condemning others who don’t have the same luck
Do give to charities – both in money and time
Do inconvenience yourself
Do get away from the TV to read a newspaper or a good book
Do perform one anonymous, selfless act per day
Do pay it forward. If you have been the recipient of the kindness or generosity of others, pass it on
Don’t prejudge what you don’t understand
Don’t fear those who worship a God different from your own
Don’t go along with the status quo. If the group is purporting greed or hate, leave the group
Don’t take others for granted
Don’t worship money, stuff or self
Don’t use God to co-sign your prejudices
Don’t ignore people outside of your own reality bubble
Don’t be a braggart
Don’t trash the planet
Don’t patronize businesses with sleazy business practices
Don’t be apathetic
Don’t be rude
Don’t stop learning
Don’t put any energy into keeping anybody down so you can stay up. Pull others up and you’ll stay up
Don’t vote Republican until the GOP can prove that it cares
Don’t be a jerk. It’s Christmas!
Desiderata by Max Ehrmann
Go placidly amidst the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its shams, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.