Jummah Reflection: Your Ego is Not Your Amigo
Jummah Mubarak, Shabbat Shalom & TGIF.
This week I’m thinking about how little time we have in our lives here on planet earth. In the eternal stream of things, our individual existence is a tiny blip. The one thing we all have in common is that we’re going to die (some sooner than later) and none of us really knows what happens next.
Does this sound dark to you? It’s not meant to. This is actually a really wonderful thing to ponder. Only our infantile egos believe that we should somehow have more of an existence than anyone who ever came before us; or that we should have some special knowledge about what happens next. It is our egos that keep us distracted from this reality by allowing us to waste precious time and resources defending and promoting our self-defined identities and building monuments to our own individual and collective ‘greatness’. The pharaohnic impulse to build pyramids in our own honor, so that our own greatness will have to be acknowledged by people long after we are gone is what consumes us during the precious years we are alive and conscious here.
True greatness is rarely understood, recognized or celebrated. But I see it. I see humans who are quietly working in their tiny corners of the world, sacrificing their selves to do what needs to be done for family, friends, and community. I see those who toil on behalf of others with no expectations of greatness, and it makes them even greater. They stand in stark contrast to the “professional do-gooders” who promote themselves as a brand, desiring their very own cult of personality.
Any good done by the ego is only done in trade. It is tainted, and can never fully change the world for the permanent better of all.
There’s a reason we are given metaphors for an afterlife in our respective religions. Not because we are supposed to be working for a cosmic cookie while we’re here. Our goodness isn’t for reward. The teaching that there is *something* that comes after this is important because it keeps us from being obsessed with our selves in this time and place. We can make our sacrifices, content with the belief that the end that is coming isn’t really the end.
Those who are doing good by and through eschewing their egos–know that you are seen. I see you: caring for your elderly parents. Volunteering to clean and cook for those who are ill. Confronting the mistakes your children make and teaching them hard lessons when it would be easier to ignore them. Making sure resources are allotted for the education and support of those who have far less. Teachers. Public Servants. Healers. Those of you who do what’s right even when there is no audience to applaud you. Those who stand out of the limelight, even when others beg you to take center stage, because you know it’s not about you.
I see you, and I thank you.