Am I Right?

How to live ethically

Joy Found in Relationships

There is no hope of joy except in human relations

We forget that there is no hope of joy except in human relations
-Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Holding out hope for what can be, having a vision of the future, possessing a sense of kinship with our surroundings, knowing that we are a part and a piece-this is what binds us to a meaningful life. When we feel tied to others, when we treat people and nature with respect, we have formed the basis of trust and caring in a shared life.

This is genuine community, a natural communion. Knowing and accepting this restores us to ourselves. In gratitude we become witnesses to the miracle of being. We know that we are something, not nothing; that we are and that we have a rightful place in the scheme of things.

Because we live with others, our character is cultivated in our relationships and who we are is measured against the effect it has upon others. What we emphasize and what we dampen depends upon particular circumstances. That is why we need constant education, insight, inspiration and support. Together we seek the highest, attempting to create again and again the holy ground that is always new and right here below our feet.

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Here is a story from the Jewish tradition: Two sages were studying, one in the living room and the other in the attic. The sage downstairs had his daughter in a cradle next to him. The one in the attic studied and meditated alone.

Suddenly the infant fell from the cradle and cried bitterly. However, because her father was in deep contemplation he didn't hear her wails.
But the sage in the attic heard, and he rushed downstairs. He picked up the baby and returned her to the cradle, placed a blanket over her and soothed her with a sweet song.

Later in the day the second sage said to the father, "It is amazing to me. Your mind is so constricted when you are involved in contemplation that there is no room for anything else. I am not like that. When I am deeply involved in thought, I can still hear the noise of a fly crawling on the windowpane."



Arthur Dobrin, D.S.W., teaches applied ethics at Hofstra University. He is the author, coauthor, and editor of more than twenty books.


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