Who are we, and what are we becoming?

Steve Montagna, a friend of mine from our high school days, is the author of the post, which first appeared on his Facebook page. With his permission, I post it here:

On this day when so many carry so much anxiety in their hearts, a few thoughts.

Many have looked at this day as a day of reckoning. In some sense it is, but I don’t think in the way most people think.

Governance, policy and politics matter, of course, and greatly. But what will always matter most are the far more enduring questions of who we are and what we are becoming.

The greatest questions challenging us today, and the past four years, and in fact throughout human history, are simply these: Are we growing our compassion or brutalizing it? Are we telling the truth about ourselves to ourselves, or are we hunkered down tightly in our illusions?

The mystery of our predicament-of-the-historical-moment, if we had the courage to face it, is not so mysterious at all. The truth is that most of our choices, thoughts, and beliefs are driven by the needs of our egos. We create the illusions of our identities to imagine that we are superior to others. And because the fragile human ego is so desperate for its fix, it will often sacrifice in turn the virtues that are the true test of our evolution: grace, honor, civility, and most importantly, compassion.

You are your ego’s servant when your ends justify your means; when you tolerate cruelty; when you stand with the bullies or mutely to their side; when you sneer at your perceived enemies; when you sacrifice your integrity for your team; when you take the easier cruel path rather than the harder compassionate one.

Cruelty is woven into the fabric of human history. It continues to plague us. We will not fix it with ideologies, political leaders, economic systems, or any of the infinite identities we latch onto, for the ego’s sake. None of these are real or enduring. They are hiding places for the ego’s fears and self-regard. Our focus on them is exactly why human history runs in endless circles of promise and misery.

We will only evolve when we tell the truth about what drives us, and then meet it, with courage, in the battlefield. And fight the good fight, today and every day, for our greater humility and compassion.If it was easy we would have already done it.

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