Counselor's Corner: The universal values that remain

Fred Cavaiani

In election years candidates seem to forget that there are universal truths and values that remain constant. These values cut across basic cultural beliefs and basic tenets of religions. They are reflected in the Golden Rule of the Jewish Covenant and carried over into Christian teachings on love and humility. These values can be reflected in Dao, in the teaching of the Buddha, in the Upanishads of the Hindu and Janist traditions and also in the best of Islam in its teachings on peace. These values are non-negotiable even though the followers of these basic traditions and religions may rationalize them away. The sad part of humanity is how we as religious believers, as leaders, and as politicians can so easily forget these basic values and find excuse after excuse not to practice them.

These are the values that are sacred and non-negotiable: 1) Life is sacred and needs to be respected from womb to tomb. 2) We are all brothers and sisters on this journey through life. 3) The more we treat others in a violent manner the more violence we do to ourselves. 4) Forgiveness is necessary for a harmonious human existence. 5) All countries are connected because we live on the same planet and are interdependent upon one another. 6) No country or nation can be an island unto itself. 7) Dialogue and communication and understanding another person’s or nation’s viewpoint is absolutely necessary for a peaceful co-existence. 7) I need to not only understand what you think and what your perceptions are: I also need to understand why you think the way you do and why you perceive me as your enemy or your friend. 8) War and violence never create harmony or peace. 9) Wisdom comes from listening in reflective silence to God and to my brothers and sisters on this small planet. 10) Life is not just about how much I can possess but it is how much I can share with others in care and compassion. 11) What I send out to others is what will come back to me. (Love brings back love. Hate brings back hate. Forgiveness brings back forgiveness. Violence brings back violence.) 12) The best in a human being comes from a peaceful harmony with a God and a peaceful harmony with the women and men who share this planet with me. 13) The more time I spend in reflective meditation the more I will see the good in other people and recognize the faults within myself that I need to let go of.

Read the manuscripts of these religions, traditions and cultures and you will discover these values. Sad to say these values are so often minimized and rationalized away. Do we ever hear a political candidate speak about these values and stating, “I will dedicate my life as president to help every country in this world to love one another and work together in harmony and peace.” Or do you ever hear a candidate or famous news anchor say, “ I will spend an hour a day in meditative prayer to help the world achieve a universal experience of peace.” Have you ever heard a politician talk about the importance of fighting violence with love and compassion?

The principles that have kept the world going after each war throughout the ages have always been based on the little or ordinary people of the world showing kindness, compassion and help to one another. Sad to say there are few if any politicians that speak about this.

I am convinced that our political leaders, in order to be elected, talk to the worst in us: the worst in us is fear, paranoia, a desire for riches, resentments, anger, a fear of those different than us, opinions without facts and a rigid belief in opinions without facts. If I can attack my opponents character in a clever and cruel manner then I can be called anti-establishment. If I can make statements that are absolutely not backed up with facts, no one gets worried.

We have become dulled and stifled to the basic values of human existence. We accept this as normal. We believe that having the most powerful weapons in the world will keep us safe. Such a delusion. Every country will eventually acquire the ability to destroy another country with nuclear power in some manner. Hatred, anger and power doesn’t make the world safer. It only makes the world more dangerous and living on a precipice of self destruction. Rationalizing that it is a right to stop life from continuing when no one is in danger of dying by stating that a fetus is not life erodes the basic values of human beings. Insisting on the death penalty does the same thing. Trying to frighten other nations by how much nuclear and military power we have damages the deepest values of life. Rationalizing war because we are fearful of what might happen to us is a very normal condition but it doesn’t work and never has worked. There will always be another war when we believe this. History has proven this so absolutely true.

Why are we so scared of love? Why are we so scared to practice the values that have been written down in many cultures and religions that talk about love and compassion for one another? Why are we so afraid to die because we are willing to love our enemy and treat them with compassion? Why am I so afraid to reach out to you with a loving embrace even when you are coming toward me with a weapon to kill me? Of course I am afraid but embracing this fear and loving you will be the quickest and most foundational way of having peace in the world. Most will never do this. But this does not mean that we should deny that these universal truths are not true.
Don’t be taken in by war, hatred and fear. Have you ever lived your life in hatred, fear and emotional war? How did that work for you, for your own personal peace and harmony? How did this help your family? Politicians and world leaders and each of us need to appreciate what the basic values of human existence really are. Some of us may die early practicing these values but our deaths and willingness to love, no matter the cost, will bring a peaceful existence to many people. Our fear stifles our love. When love is stifled, so is peace and the road map to peace.

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Fred Cavaiani is a licensed marriage counselor and psychologist with a private practice in Troy. He is the founder of Marriage Growth Center, a consultant for the Detroit Medical Center, and conducts numerous programs for groups throughout Southeast Michigan. His column in the Legal News runs every other Tuesday. He can be reached at 248-362-3340. His e-mail address is: Fredcavi@yahoo.com and his website is fredthecounselor.com.

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