Those of us who contribute to the betterment of our communities would, I dare say, have some difficulty in understanding what drives us. The flow of circumstances in one’s life, like the flow of a fast-flowing river into which one has fallen, can involve one in an unplanned activity (like swimming with great gusto).
For example, when I was conned into becoming a ‘shop steward’ for my public sector union (and I am far too aware of the thuggery of some unionists and the undesirable influence unions have in the political arena), I was progressively invited to contribute to the work of my union (I tended to generate useful ideas for policy). My decade-length work on career protection resulted in a Meritorious Service Award.
Similarly, following a question I raised at a Parents & Citizens meeting at my daughter’s first year at school, I found myself the Vice-President. Within a few years I was the foundation chairman of the school board, re-writing the school policy, and drafting an outline of a program for religious education in primary schools. Following my offspring into high school, I found myself president of that P&C; I changed our work from raising money to teacher-supported discussions about education.
I then became involved in teaching public speaking and chairmanship, through Australian Rostrum, to the community; formed a primary schools competition in public speaking, and co-founded a national speaking competition for secondary schools.
I did not choose to be involved in these activities. However, there was another strand in my contribution to civil society. I consciously chose to be involved in communication with others; and to contribute to my society.
To begin with, in primary school, I used to write my thought for the day on a palm-sized paper, which was surreptitiously circulated among my neighbours. In high school, at university, and in other organisations, I contributed to newsletters. Why would I want to do that? Since retirement, for 4 years I was on 4 different committees in my first coastal residence; in the next 20 years, I served 5 committees, one of which I formed from members of 3 churches. I rationalise my involvement by claiming that one should put back something into the community which sustains us.
Now, a quite different thought has overtaken me. I now suspect that our past lives overtake us, in the way even a quiet sea will carry floating objects to wherever the cross currents, with help from the ever-present winds, eventually take them. However, when I worked for the betterment of the various communities I was involved with, I did not realise that it was a sense of justice which filled my sails. It is that very sense which leads me to chastise religious leaders for not making a sufficient contribution to the institutional betterment of their followers in terms of their life-chances, if not their bellies!
What if I had actually fought for justice in a recent past life? This thought arose when a casual clairvoyant (who ‘sees’ things beyond our capacity) said ‘I see you on a black stallion, carrying a long curved sword; what is the name for it?’ Is this why my right palm itches for the feel of a scimitar when someone seeks to persecute me? Since I will not have a scimitar in my next life either, how will I cope with my foolish self-selected enemies, for I have never sought to harm anyone?
Indeed, my intention is merely to benefit my communities, even through my blog.