Monday, June 20, 2016


The other day I saw a short video of a rescue that a man did saving the life of a dog in Russia.  The dog had somehow walked out about ten feet onto the spill way of a dam.  There on the perilous edge, with several inches of water flowing underfoot, the dog froze in fear, unable to move to save it's own life.  A spontaneous rescue team assembled with on-lookers overhead.  One man with an assistant had climbed down onto the spill way and then inched his way along the slippery precipice, slowly and carefully approaching the dog from behind. 

When he reached the animal, he patted it in friendly way, speaking softly to it and gently took hold of it's collar.  Then ever so carefully, dragging the terrified and immobilized dog with him, he backed his way to safety.  At that point, he tied a rope, which was dangling from above, around the dog's chest and neck, creating a sling.  The support team from above then hoisted the animal up the sheer concrete wall to safe ground and the man and his assistant climbed back up the ladder to join them.

It was quite a sight.  And it left a deep impression on me.  Here was this man, brave beyond belief, saving the life of a dog that he didn't even know.  Why would someone do such a thing, at risk to all they hold dear?  Not only was his own precious life held delicately in the balance, but the lives of all who love that man or depend on him for their means of support, their lives were also cast into jeopardy.  Yet, at times like these, we think of none of that.  We simply step up and do what needs to be done.  We run into the burning house to save the cat.  We jump into the deep water, even if we don't know how to swim, to save the child from drowning.  One might ask why is that?

In a lecture that I saw by Joseph Campbell, years ago, he said, this is because, "You and the other are one."

Now, that certainly puts a damper on the whole 'survival of the fittest idea,' doesn't it?  In fact it smacks it right in the face, because the deeper reality is our interconnectedness.  It's all of us or none of us. 

My husband last night was commenting on war.  He said that the 'casualties' from the recent Gulf Wars have now totaled more suicides among returned vets than battle deaths.  He also said that an older friend of his, who was in World War Two, once told him that they all tried not to shoot anyone.  They just impressively blew up the surrounding areas in hopes that the "enemy" would retreat. 

All of the great spiritual traditions inform us that we are all one.  There is after all some version of the Golden Rule in every one of them.  "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."  Yet instead, too often our religions teach us separation.  We are told that their way is the only way to union with the Divine and that all others must conform to their beliefs or be condemned.  And, much more tragically, way too often, our religious doctrines see others who don't conform, as being worthy of slaughter.  These are dangerous ideas and they have plagued humanity for way too long. 

This premise of separation also holds true for our patriotic affiliations.  We value our own familiar ways of being over the ways of others.  However, I also recently saw a video on how extensively our ancestry is shared.  In it, an Englishmen denounced all Germans, and an Irish woman denounced the French until they gave some saliva and allowed it to be tested to see how much of their own genetic material was shared by the genes of the others.  Then they realized the folly of their formerly passionately held opinions and saw how denouncing the others was denouncing their very own selves.

The time has come for us to all rescue each other from these dogmas of separation and realize that we are all one.  Each and every one of us is a part of the great stream of life.  We all contain our one little drop from the ocean of Divinity.  And the time is upon us now to embrace this truth.  Not only for us humans in regards to other humans, but also, in regards to all of life.  What we do to the other, we do to ourselves.  If we were to let another die, we would be letting a part of ourselves die.  And the man with the dog on the cliff of the dam demonstrated that to me that with his courage and his deeper instinct of oneness.

© Josephine Laing, 2016

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