Path Toward Peace – Step Four


Fostering altruism and philanthropy

Placing others’ welfare above our own can seem such an impossible ethical directive but, imagine… Your most dear partner is being physically assaulted. Cling to that image and read on.

From the Boston Globe: Nonprofits gird for loss of funding “Some local nonprofits and charities fear they may lose millions of dollars in funding following the collapse of major Wall Street investment firms.”

From WorldChanging: Using Philanthropy to Fuel Innovation “…share some thoughts about how we might better use philanthropy to fuel innovation for sustainability.”

From the Wall Street Journal: Wealthy Son Aims to Build His Legacy “…build a profitable business and serve as a platform for people looking to do good.”

Placing others’ welfare above our own is a critical need as we follow the Path Toward Peace. The example up there of putting ourselves between our beloved and an attacker is the archetypical pattern. It can also serve as a model for other aspects of our life—infusing them with an altruistic motivation.

Let’s go to an extreme here, a situation that many Faith traditions hold up as noble—placing the welfare of our enemies above our own welfare…

Many folk will immediately reject this as an option. Fact is, this very prescription for a truly spiritual reaction to adversaries is the type of admonition that scares many people away from religion…

We’ll be exploring the material/spiritual polarity in a future post but, for now, consider this:
If we truly love someone we will do all in our power to attend to their welfare. So, it appears to follow that those we don’t feel worthy of our altruism must be those we don’t truly love.

Spiritual Quotes:

“But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.”
King James Bible, Luke 6:27-28

“The fundamentals of the whole economic condition are divine in nature and are associated with the world of the heart and spirit…. Hearts must be so cemented together, love must become so dominant that the rich shall most willingly extend assistance to the poor and take steps to establish these economic adjustments permanently. If it is accomplished in this way, it will be most praiseworthy because then it will be for the sake of God and in the pathway of His service. For example, it will be as if the rich inhabitants of a city should say, ‘It is neither just nor lawful that we should possess great wealth while there is abject poverty in this community’, and then willingly give their wealth to the poor, retaining only as much as will enable them to live comfortably.

“Strive, therefore, to create love in the hearts in order that they may become glowing and radiant. When that love is shining, it will permeate other hearts even as this electric light illumines its surroundings. When the love of God is established, everything else will be realized. This is the true foundation of all economics. Reflect upon it.”
Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 238

Please leave your thoughts and feelings in the Comments.
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14 thoughts on “Path Toward Peace – Step Four

  1. In some ways, I can see how holding the welfare of your enemies above your own could be mutually beneficial. If your enemy had any conscious, he would not be an enemy to someone that wanted to help him.

  2. Alex – this series is a fantastic idea and I have been enjoying it tremendously!

    I don’t think your passion and dedication to helping others could have been portrayed any better!

  3. Evita,

    You honor me with your tremendously encouraging comment!

    This series is a true test for my mind, heart, and spiritual sensibilities…

  4. a fantastic series, alex! you never cease to amaze me.

    stepping between the beloved and an attacker – what an interesting image …

    let me try a thought experiment. fortunately, i don’t think i have any personal enemies but there are some people who i’m not terribly enamoured with. my ex husband, for example.

    placing my ex-husband’s welfare above my own … hmmmm …. i need to mull that over a bit. but there IS a freeing feeling somewhere … (what you said about the prisoner?)

  5. isabella,

    Well, my dear, I’m not a psychologist (though those who’ve received Tarot or astrology readings from me try to pin that label on my jacket) so the issue of ex-husbands is a bit extracurricular but the quote from the Bible mentions, among other altruistic actions, praying “…for them which despitefully use you.” This in itself is acting to improve another’s welfare, eh?

  6. i am in quietness blessed to se the thoughts on altruism and read further on enemies and forgiving .so true thankyou for sharing .hope i find my way back to this page.

  7. Cooking Lady,

    Yes! Very simply put yet very deep wisdom.

    Far too many people totally miss the personal practically of that maxim!

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