(In memory of Kevin D. Jumper, whose life will live through others.)
Although collaboration requires many concessions, not the least of which for many people is the subjugation of self, its rewards often exceed expectations. Good endeavors become great through collaboration. What would Shakespeare have been without the Bible, and what would any of us be without Shakespeare? Writers (as one example) are not in competition with each other so much as they are in a struggle to arouse the collective consciousness of readers (many of whom are hopefully other writers). Many writers can stir that interest much more effectively than one. We are due a great awakening.
A shared thought lives on. An inspirational thought becomes immortal through the actions of those it inspires. As Criss Jami wrote in Killosophy, “Good works is giving to the poor and the helpless, but divine works is showing them their worth to the One who matters.”
On a day we celebrate a man who gave his life for the cause of equal rights, we should understand we’re not born with equal talents. Moreover, throughout our lives we make choices that further differentiate those talents. Nonetheless, we each can offer our talents toward a purpose that will live through others. Our society today places so much emphasis on tangible wins and losses that the zeal too often spills over into our personal lives. When we use our talents to help those around us become better people, we have succeeded in a way that transcends mere winning or losing.
As long as we focus solely on our flawed perception of the world’s problems, we will be blind to the greatness within each of us. We cannot expect to collectively lift humanity, or even a small group, by tearing parts of it down. We also cannot improve others by engendering a culture of dependence instead of helping people increase their potential. To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, we cannot help others by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves. We can, however, help ourselves and others by consistently ignoring differences that too often divide us and doing the right thing—regardless of our relationship to the other party or parties involved. Putting aside differences to strive for a mutually beneficial outcome may not initially be comfortable but it can be highly rewarding.
“We must learn to live together as brothers or we will all perish together as fools.” Martin Luther King Jr.