Out of nowhere a Nickelback song kept playing in my mind: "If today was your last day."
If today was your last day ... fill in the blank. What would you do? Where would you go? With whom would you spend time?
My guess: Most of you would probably say you want to spend it with your loved ones saying goodbye. Would there be some looters like we saw on CNN during Katrina? Maybe. But why? You can't take it with you.
Hindu theologians speak of yugas, great expanses of time through which the course of spiritual evolution runs. They say there are four great yugas, which roll by one after another:
- Krita yuga: 1,728,000 years
- Treta yuga: 1,296,000 years
- Dvapara yuga: 864,000 years
- Kali yuga: 432,000 years
In the Krita era, people are pure-hearted, so everyone lives together in peace and harmony. When the Treata period rolls around, folks lose one-fourth of their good qualities. By the time the Dvapara begins, we're only half as good as humans originally were. And in the Kali age, people are just plain bad. Only about a fourth of altruism is left in us, and the rest is selfishness, hatred and greed.
Guess which era we live in today? The Kali yuga, which began on Feb. 18, 3102 B.C. That means we have a long way to go at our worst behavior!
When I learned about yugas, it made sense.
We're not living by higher principles in business, in politics, in neighborhood affairs and even in our own homes. Domestic abuse and child abuse is all too common. It's not right.
Violence starts with anger and unkind words. We can express ourselves without hate.
For example, I agreed to take a picture for a gentleman on Saturday morning. We were to meet at the newspaper office and drive to a nearby location for the photo. I was there, along with a co-worker who said she'd help out. He never came by the newspaper office. I was angry that my time was wasted and that someone in the community could disrespect me like that, but I kept my cool.
The next time I saw this gentleman, I spoke to him graciously but honestly. I told him my time is valuable, too. Sometimes folks need a gentle reminder.
If today was your last day, would you have behaved toward all men and women, and especially to your own family circle, most kindly, courteously and graciously?
Of course, some people are mean-spirited because they enjoy behaving that way. It seems to make them feel superior to others. Do you know anyone like that? I do.
Page 2 of 2 - I asked a young woman working behind the counter at Circle K how she handles folks with a bad attitude. She had a great response. She said, "I just smile and I am extra nice. That aggravates them even more!"
We agreed. There is nothing you can say to an angry person to change his/her personality. You just have to guard against becoming one of them.
That's what they want. They want you to be miserable and angry, too. Don't do it.
The only way to fight hate is with love. Fighting hate with hate only leads to more hate - and in some cases - violence.
If we have legitimate conflicts and disagreements, can handle them like civilized people.
I'd like to see our politicians do a better job of this. You wouldn't believe the hate-filled press releases I get from high-ranking government officials regarding policies from the opposition.
In "The Science of Being Great," Wallace D. Wattles writes: "We have at the present time few really great figures in the political life of our country: our politicians are a petty lot. There is no Lincoln, no Webster, no Clay Calhoun or Jackson. Why? Because our present statesmen deal only with sordid and petty issues - questions of dollars and cents, of expediency and party success, of material prosperity without regard to ethical right. Thinking along these lines does not call forth great souls. The statesmen of Lincoln's time and previous times dealt with questions of eternal truth; of human rights and justice."
Lisa Yates is the editor of Gonzales (La.) Weekly Citizen. Follow her on Twitter at @Lisa_editor.