I sat in my property class. Soon enough, the topic of the tragedy of the commons came up. The tragedy of the commons is when there's a common resource available to all, and each person acting in her own self-interest takes the resource as much as possible.
I wondered when this problem started. I reflected that if there's a feeling of individuality, a recognition of the importance of 'me', then this problem is bound to occur. What's interesting is that with a little research, what's best for all other beings on this Earth ends up being best for 'me' anyways. But when the ego is involved it's often hard to see too far into the future.
If we recognize our shared connection in this world, our shared goal of reaching Truth and our shared interest of reaching Love (whether we realize it now or on our death beds), I'm sure we'd also recognize the beauty all around us.
I heard a story once of three Sikhs in jail. One was a young Singh, the other was a middle-aged Singh, and the third was an old Singh. All three of them were starving. They hadn't received any food for the past two days.
On the third day, the guards came by and dropped of two roti's, hardly enough for any one of them to eat alone.
Without any hesitation, the old Singh said "you two should eat. I'm old and my time is almost over. You two carry the hope for our future, and you should be strong to carry it well."
The middle Singh man responded. "No, not at all. You two must eat," he said. "The young one is our true future, and we need you to teach him. You are wise in your age, and can teach him many things," he said to the old Singh.
Then the young Singh spoke up. "No, both of you are wrong. You are strong, and we need you to fight for our cause," he said to the middle-aged Singh. He turned to the old Singh. "And we need you to spread your wisdom to other Sikhs."
They discussed the issue, then decided to split the food evenly among themselves.
Even though each one was hungry, they cared deeply for the greater community and for each other. I think back to this story for inspiration. It's easy to get caught up in our own thoughts and problems, and to forget the importance and beauty of caring for and serving one another.
What are some ways you remind yourself to live a life of service? Let me know in the comments, or just say it to my face :)