Do you know what is better than charity and fasting and prayer?

It is keeping peace and good relations between people,

as quarrels and bad feelings destroy mankind.

- Prophet Mohammed


Day 14

The rainy season is certainly upon us here in East Asia. It's pretty rough this summer as well. In fact, this entire year as been marked with extreme weather. Seoul got slammed with a heavy snowstorm and winter blast last January which pretty much stayed with us until mid-May. Spring didn't really even happen and now I'm getting soaked every time I step outside the house. A lot of rain isn't a big deal, but when you have two jobs and a wife that likes to move around the city, wetness becomes more of a problem. However, tomorrow is supposed to be clear and I'm thrilled because I also happen to have a couple days off. The question now is, what should I do?

Well, I've been thinking a lot about organizing a group of people to clean up the Han River banks and surrounding parks. I use the parks down there a lot and have always been a little irked by the amount of trash that builds up. I'm planning on going down there by myself tomorrow morning with a couple jumbo trash bags and get started, but how much can one person do? Like Buddhism and Christianity, Jainism tells us that compassion is paramount and that we need to do things that help others in private and without fanfare. I agree with this to a point, but doesn't there come a time when assistance is needed? I fully agree that most problems in the world come from people focusing on others too much rather than what they need to do for themselves.
Fight with yourself, why fight with external foes?  He who conquers himself through himself, will obtain happiness. 
Yet, changing the world to make it possible for others to be happy requires a group effort.  Let me illustrate a point here. What make people want to help more: A photo of an oil rig or a bird covered in slick?

Of course, most people will look at the oil rig and think 'energy' while people look at the bird and think 'disaster'. Disasters make people feel compassion and a desire to help others and while helping others in need is always a great thing to do, it misses to point. We should look at that oil rig and see 'disaster waiting to happen' and feel the urge to progress past their use, but since we don't spend time fighting with our own conscience and rather waste energy battling and posturing with others, we refuse to see this. If we truly asked ourselves how we could prevent seeing birds covered in oil, a very simple respond would be offered and that would be to change our energy policy, but we don't operate like that. We'd prefer to fight with external foes for the sheer sake of it.

How about these images?

Looks like fun, right? Who doesn't like tailgating?

The people who have to clean this up don't. Showing pictures of trash and oil-covered birds is good because it gets people to think compassionately and act on that emotion, but why must it always come so late? Just like when I had my blood pressure issue a few months ago, it was only after being scared into living healthily did I change. Cleaning dirty birds is great, but after we clean them, where do they go? They end up back in the same high-risk area surrounded by oil rigs just ready to leak again (27,000 to be exact).

It's unfortunate that we do this to ourselves. I believe that we know internally that we're causing damage to ourselves and our world which is why the Jains believe that we have the capacity to make the right decision before it becomes a catastrophe. Humans are what they are and until people start fighting with themselves first, we will have to continue acting on outcomes rather than intuition. 

I'm still going to clean up the river tomorrow and I'm also going to promote is on some websites and forums. Not because I want credit, but because this is how people operate. Rather than reusing their cup, it's easier to throw it away. If I get enough people involved then maybe they will start pressing others to start thinking in the same manner and only then can we--as people--start making good decisions internally before reacting to the bad ones externally.


  1. did it go?? Get much cleaning done and get any help?

  2. A very good way to spend your day off. You are an inspiration.