Preparing to write this essay I went looking for the source of a quotation I’d heard many years ago, but whose author I could not recall. In the process I ran across another citation that neatly encapsulates my core belief. And here it is: “Nothing in human nature is so God-like as the disposition to do good to our fellow creatures.” Samuel Richardson, an eighteenth century novelist, wrote that. To many it may sound — well —namby-pamby, but for me it is right on. And here’s way: By extension it seems to make superfluous the question that keeps college students, and others, up late probing the unfathomable for the unknowable. Life, like power, I believe, is its own reason for being. What should we do if we were to open our front door one morning to find a great work of art on our doorstep? I believe we should accept it, cherish it, treasure it, preserve it, and in so doing acknowledge the beneficence of the giver and demonstrate our appreciation of the gift. When we visit a museum do we find the artist, or a likeness of him or her, enthroned and awaiting our adulation? The work, the art, the creation is what we venerate by our presence. And this reverence, this respect, of course, applies to all that we have been given, not just our own individual gift, our lives, but all life, all nature. Were we to agree with Samuel Richardson’s concept and act accordingly I believe we could transform the planet. Oh, and that quotation whose author I could not, and still cannot recall: “It would be easier for an ant to understand the city of London than it is for man to understand the nature of God.” This, too, I believe.
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