Four steps to a happier world

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, October 1, 2020

Have you figured out the accompanying crossword puzzle yet? It came to me the other day as I was watching one of my favourite TV shows, Wheel of Fortune, while reflecting also on a conversation I’d recently had with one of our longtime readers about the collective unhappiness in our world today.

Most of you, I’m sure, are familiar with the popular gameshow’s opening. Co-hosts Vanna White and Pat Sajak step onto the stage, introduce the show, and then Vanna steps off to the lower left of the screen. I’ve got into the habit of counting the number of steps she takes as she exits, and almost always it’s six full steps – six steps to fun and fortune for the day’s three happy contestants.

Now, what did this get me thinking about for life as a whole? How about four steps we can all take toward making our world a happier place?

Cochrane coffee companion Marlis McDouall and I had been visiting mug-to-mug for the first time in six months. It soon became apparent that we shared a growing concern for the wellbeing of our world. Self-interest, expediency, greed, and anything else you can think of that violates the spirit of integrity had brought our world to its knees. We lamented over the implications of this environmentally, economically, politically, and societally in general. She followed up our visit with an email of her further thoughts:

“How did we manage to maneuver ourselves into this current state of constant anxiety and fear?” she asks. Take the environment, for example. “Changes are now accelerating before our eyes. And still, we are squirming to decide” what, if anything, we want to do about it – especially considering the costs.

“Everything has a price, though, and valuable time is being wasted by our turning in circles. While it is no easy decision to make as it involves lives, the alternative involves lives also, the loss of many. Nobody can be blamed for wanting to live a comfortable life, and in the Western world we’ve had a pretty good run for our money for many decades. Now that things are changing fast, are we willing to rise to the challenge? Can we adjust our sense of entitlement, our precious lifestyles?”

I bounced Marlis’s concern off two of our likeminded Calgary readers, Keith and Joy Newman. Joy recalled Mahatma Gandhi’s words, “The world has enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed.”

And sadly, she notes with reference to its environmental impact, “The pandemic has increased our waste, as the fear of the pandemic overrides our concern for what we use, don’t use, and how we get rid of it.”

But what can we do about it? Joy suggests that we need to look to the moral code so strongly proclaimed by Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson, Raj Mohan Gandhi. The former president of Initiatives of Change International, with which Keith and Joy are associated, stresses the importance of the “Four Absolutes.”

Four Absolutes? Yes, the same Four Absolutes stressed also in Alcoholics Anonymous – four values that serve as steps toward a happier world.

The Four Absolutes provide a trail guide for our journey through life. These are the absolute moral values of honesty, purity, unselfishness and love.

As Marlis asks, “Are we willing to rise to the challenge?”

And by the way, did you rise to the challenge of our puzzle?


© 2020 Warren Harbeck

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