I was out walking with a friend in Vancouver a few days ago. When we started out there was a heavy fog blanketing this city that huddles between the mountains and the sea; the fog horns were sounding in slow rhythm as warning to mariners navigating Burrard Inlet; and there was a muffling of traffic that was somehow misleading as if suggesting that many people had refused to venture onto the roads when in fact the city was bustling with traffic and life. The air was cold and damp and while we were reasonably well dressed for the weather we had to set out at a brisk pace in order to warm our selves. We knew from the weather forecasters who, by and large, can be trusted these days to be fairly accurate that the fog would not last and that by early afternoon the sun would burn it off. So, we set out in hope of sun and warmth for a long walk around Burnaby Lake.
As we walked I was aware that as we strode along the trails through the trees of the rain forest we were passing through the fog of a low-lying cloud. With each breath I took I knew that I was breathing in the fog and it was becoming part of me. Yet with each breath I exhaled I was also contributing to the fog. This symbiosis between the fog and myself was in my awareness as my friend and I discussed many current economic and political events, some close and some far away. In our day and age the distance of events does not necessarily diminish their impact. Perhaps our age of telecommunication and Internet connectivity has deepened our awareness that what happens in one part of the world often has influence in another part of the world.
It seems to me that a scientific awareness of the connectivity of all things and a philosophical understanding of the communion of all beings is essential in our globalized age. We cannot live as if we are separate entities unconnected to each other. In fact, despite the push to expressive individualism we have plenty of examples of the beneficence of personhood, subjects who find the fullness of their identities within communities. It is for this reason that the universal golden rule of ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ continues to have currency in our world and to provide the foundations to the rule of law and our ideas of justice. But, perhaps even deeper than this moral code there is the invocation to agapé, love of another, which is the deepest pulse at the heart of all things.
There is plenty of evidence of areas of our world where the golden rule and the heart of love have not found the light of day, have been cast aside or spurned. There are areas where people, events or circumstances tend to obscure my seeing the world as gift. Sometimes it seems as if I am continually walking in a fog that obscures the goodness and love that there is in this world of ours. When this happens I find it all the more necessary to listen for the foghorns that guide me to safe harbor, to walk in hope that the sun shall burn off the fog, and to pay attention to my breathing as I live in the midst of all things.