Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Three Dangerous Words

We are born with the concepts inside us, the concepts represented by the three dangerous words.

When we are first able to express ourselves these three words are among the first we learn how to use and use correctly. Use them we must and use them we do. We use them to our advantage and we use them to our detriment. Properly used, they can be a blessing. Improperly used, they are dangerous.

The three dangerous words are "me", and "mine", and "more".

"Me" is the first concept formed in our infant minds. It is the name I call myself. With its other forms, "Myself" and "I", "Me" expresses self awareness. "Me" separates me from you from and from all others. In this it is useful. But, "Me" becomes dangerous when I use it to lord over you or others. "Me becomes dangerous when we think or assume "It's all about ME!" or "The world revolves around ME!" or "It's all for ME!"  Too quickly we forget about others who may be as much or more important than "ME". Too quickly we become self-centered. Too quickly healthy self respect becomes vanity, conceit and selfishness.

Me is a dangerous word. Use it with care.

"Mine" is the word of ownership. Closely related to "Me", "'Mine" is probably the second concept our minds recognize. "Mine" asserts ownership. "Mine" separates what I own from everything else in the world. The concept of "Mine" is essential. But "Mine" is dangerous when used to assert and justify ownership that is of what is not rightfully ours. "Mine" enables the selfishness of "Me" and is the root of envy, covetousness, and conflict. "It's mine because I wants it" says Smeagol shortly before murdering his brother in Lord of the Rings.

"Mine is a dangerous word. Use it with care.

The third dangerous word is "More". More is used to express insufficiency when one has not enough. "More" brings to mind the image of a starving orphan who, having consumed his miserable bowl of gruel extends the bowl to an unfeeling master and mouths the word "More".

"More" becomes dangerous when, having sufficient for our needs, we continually strive to amass "More" than that. "More" is the enabler of excess. We may have sufficient and not need "More". We may acquire "More" and hoard it to our detriment. Yet we continue to strive for "More" still. After all, if enough is good, "More" is better. And if "More" is better, then even too much may not be enough. So, we expend our time and effort to gain ever more. We become wage slaves, incur debt beyond any rational ability to repay, refinance and increase that debt again and again all for the joy of having and the burden of maintaining "More" and "ever More".

How do we maintain the usefulness and avoid the dangers inherent in these dangerous words?

First, we emphasize respect for others and concepts such as courtesy and honor, civility and compassion over the concept of self esteem inherent in "Me". We learn to put the best interests of others above our own.

We emphasize giving and sharing above the concept of ownership inherent in "Mine". We learn that the words "what's mine is also yours" represent not only a noble concept but also a workable strategy. To the extent possible, we become content with and value what we have and are willing to share what we have with others.

We re-learn the concept of sufficiency and satisfaction expressed in the word "enough". Recognizing sufficiency, we learn to relinquish excess. We experience the joy of saving up and paying cash for things we really want. And we learn that in many things having less really is easier and more fulfilling  than having more.

How will you do it?

What one thing will you do this month to mitigate the danger lurking behind "Me" or "Mine" or "More"?