July 18
The central purpose of each
life should be to dilute the
misery in the world.

Karl Menninger


Today's Meditation:

There is obviously a lot of misery in this world, but the good news is that there are many, many people who are willing and able to lessen its intensity, to help people through it, to take away its strength.  Diluting the intensity of the world isn't a question of trying to wipe out misery, for such a task never would be possible, but more a question of doing things for others that help them to see and feel hope, and to understand the meaning of compassion.

Misery seems to be a trait of humanity.  Sometimes it occurs on huge scales in places where there is drought or famine, and sometimes it happens on much smaller scales, in run-down neighborhoods or in families where abuse takes place.  Misery tends to keep people from feeling hope, and it tends to keep them thinking that the status quo is the only way that things can be.  But how do we as individuals have any power at all to help to dilute its power? 

Only by giving of ourselves or our talents or our time.  If we live in cities, it's certain that there are people around us living in misery.  Help is needed at food banks and counseling centers and other places that serve the destitute.  We don't even need to go to these places if the times don't work in our schedules--taking the time to help to publicize the need could accomplish more than serving a breakfast sometimes.  Improving our performance at work may have an extremely strong effect on someone, somewhere, that we'll never know about. 

If we do work at diluting the misery in this world, it's important that we give up our need to see results, for such a need more than likely will lead to frustration and possible keep us from giving more.  What's important is that we do find things that can help others, and that we do make that contribution, no matter how small or insignificant it may feel when we do so.  For then we're contributing to our larger purpose in life, and fulfilling our purpose always should be what we seek to do while we're here.

Questions to consider:

In which ways might you help to dilute the misery in the world, in your own special ways? 

What benefits will there be for you if you do things to help other people through hard times?

What would happen to the people of this world if we stopped helping each other? 

For further thought:
To desire and strive to be of some service to the world,
to aim at doing something which shall really increase the
happiness and welfare and virtue of humankind--this
is a choice which is possible for all of us; and surely
it is a good haven to sail for.

Henry Van Dyke


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