The Great Tool of Survival in Crisis: Displacement of Self

Oh-oh – mariner feels a sermon coming on. He’ll keep it short.

All the western religions except for a few voodoo and cult variations have a common core of belief. It is to love whatever is real, however it is defined, and to love other humans first before self. Love is at the core; one must interpret many extrapolations in religious literature only in strict contrast to love – not in terms of one’s preferences, biases or self-reasoned values.

Mariner will reference only one scripture: Matthew 19:16 ff.

Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”

“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”

“Which ones?” he inquired.

Jesus replied, “You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as yourself.”

“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

Mariner uses this particular scripture because it pits engrained capitalism in its greedy context against salvation. Of all nations, the United States lives by capitalistic principles – religious and otherwise. And rich means everyone; one is always better off than someone else.

Salvation means displacing self in favor of others. This is the hardest, most awkward, most irritating rule for religious followers. “Isn’t it enough that I have sympathy?” “Isn’t it enough that I give money?” “Isn’t it enough that I’m not a racist?” “Isn’t it enough that I keep a job when others don’t?”

Did the reader notice the subject, “I”? That is the flaw. There is no “I”. There is only “them” and “they”.

When there are hard times religion’s core principle of love becomes an important factor at the center of society. Continuing to promote self first will make the hard times worse. Hoarding, price gouging, buying and selling stock and property for gain only for selfish reasons not helpful to the greater good, taking opportunity away from others, leaving hardship at the foot of others, all fit the ethics of greed. Society will pay a harder price for these tactics. It may be in these times of pandemic that fatalities may be part of that price. It may be that the entire economy will collapse. It may be the United States may survive only as a second class nation among nations.

It is time to displace one’s self interest and ask, “What do they need?” Do they need money and resources?” “Do they need comfort and healing?” “How can they be helped?” and the hardest, “Do they need me?”

Ancient Mariner



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