Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
And he sat down over against the treasury, and beheld how the multitude cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a poor widow, and she cast in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, This poor widow cast in more than all they that are casting into the treasury: for they all did cast in of their superfluity; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living. - Mark 12:41-44 (ASV)
If we aim to change the trajectory of a world historically laden with violence and injustices, we must wrestle with this uncomfortable truth: save for a relative few, most of us have been, and continue to be, largely unwilling to curb our personal pursuits for excessive comfort, wealth, and pleasure in order to seriously dedicate ourselves to building a better world where we can all live our lives with dignity and freedom from fear and want regardless of age, race, gender, creed, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or any other categorical division. The more we have and the more freedoms we enjoy, the greater our responsibility to work for justice and speak out on behalf of those who do not enjoy the same level of prosperity. Oftentimes, though, we shirk these responsibilities - but it need not be the case.
Try to imagine a world where all of us, of our own free will, make a serious and enduring commitment to work for the values discussed above. The ‘poor widow’ serves as a model and a leader towards that end, demonstrating what it really means to humbly and wholeheartedly give of oneself with all one has. The story becomes all the more potent and relevant in consideration of her impoverished position; however, we must extend the meaning of giving far beyond finances and delve deeper into the depths of our humanity if we are to achieve our fullest potential. We all, myself included, could learn from her example.
Please consider her actions in light of your own policies and practices, and ask yourself if you are truly committed, in words and deeds, to developing a more just and compassionate tomorrow for our and future generations. Please be aware that if anything meaningful is to come of this exercise, you must be brutally honest in your self-assessment. If she, in all of her poverty, could offer up so much, how much more can we all do to care for people like her and prevent situations like hers from occurring in the first place?
The truest gauge of human progress, individually and collectively, is of how we treat our most vulnerable citizens. If the quantity and quality of your speech and actions reflect a genuine devotion to this principle, then keep talking the talk and walking the walk, regardless of what you encounter; don’t ever let up on it and thank you for your service. If not, it’s never too late to change course and begin to walk the more demanding yet internally rewarding path I’ve mapped throughout these pages. It’s a long, rugged, and often lonely road, fraught with challenges and sacrifices, but as the saying goes, 'long journeys start with single steps.' I can assure you they’re worth taking.
We have a choice. We can continue to work for excessive self-acquisition or we can commit to building a better world for all; two highly divergent paths with drastically different destinations. Decide for yourself which path you want to take.
I hope to see you on the way.
Christopher A. Zuccaro
Pearl River, New York
April 16, 2015