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It’s a wonderful life — worth every breath

June 10, 2018

So life isn’t easy, and some of us who aren’t happy dealing with the struggle, the losses, the challenges and conflicts — like Kate Spade or Anthony Bourdain — sometimes  choose the peace of the grave.

More so in an age of frustration in the face of deepening religious and political rifts — with refugees from war-torn Syria and gang-infested Central America being turned away from the borders of prosperous nations — and allegations of sexual harassment and assaults.

But why not rage against the dying of the light, and fight the good fight? Wouldn’t that set a better example for our children — by showing them how to deal with adversity? What do we expect them to learn from suicides by famous professionals — whom they look up to as models and aspire to emulate?

I believe that our education system lacks humanity. We’re taught how to work hard and succeed but hardly to cope with the storms and tremors of life — the shocks, sadness, failure and depression. Right from kindergarten up, going to school is about competing and winning and gloating, often ruthlessly.

Not everyone succeeds. Many falter. Others strive to overcome obstacles and eventually come through. But we learn early on that we’re far from equal in our abilities and achievements — and most of us are fine with that.

After all, each if us is unique in our own way. We have our own likes and dislikes and interests and abilities. What some of us are good at, others are not. That does make us different from one another — not necessarily better or worse.

That’s why it’s good to be curious. We all have something to learn from others — and probably something to teach someone. No one is omniscient.

Humility is a mark of wisdom and maturity. If there’s any quality worth envying in another, it is the ability to remain calm and humble in the face of adversity.

This is not to minimize the problem of mental illness — that is the realm of psychotherapy. When we’re unwell, we need to see a doctor or therapist, and there’s no shame in doing so.

But for those of us who are in control of our faculties, common sense demands that we don’t turn everyday life into a war — as do so many reckless and aggressive drivers and commuters who push others out of the way, or hog up seats with bags and coats.

We can live and let others live. All it takes is a smile, and some consideration, to make things better all around.

Life is better than the realities that confront us today. You only have to look at the stars, and flowers and landscapes around the world, and the beautiful work that thousands of great artists and writers and poets have produced over the centuries.

It’s all about nourishing the mind — and developing the ability to introspect and understand another person’s point of view.

Evolution, truly, is not the survival of the fittest but the survival of the smartest.

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