This Precious Human Life



This morning my beloved uncle Bob died of cancer. He passed away gently, in his sleep. Yet another casualty of the cancer epidemic that is sweeping this planet. He contracted cancer from exposure to asbestos at a pulp mill he worked in. For much of his life, Bob was an inventor, and when he left this earth, he had well over a hundred patents in his name. Most of them were in the field of pollution control.

My brother Randy also died of cancer, just a few years ago. Too many of us, far too many of us have been touched by cancers cruel fingers. Although it is often difficult to prove, I believe that the huge spike in cancer we are experiencing is caused by a toxic environment, toxic products and toxic foods. We are suffering from the long term effects of a planet and a people that have been disregarded and disrespected, by those bent on profit and plunder.

Uncle Bob, despite being in the final stages of his illness, travelled to Los Angeles to testify at a hearing, suing the company, because he learned that asbestos is still being used, and workers are still being exposed, that unless it becomes too costly for them, these conscienseless corporations will do nothing.

One day, I dream of a world of integral business, where all factors are considered in the production, and consumption, of any product, or service. Where we think of the environmental effects, the human effects, the ethical effects, the spiritual effects of each and every enterprise. Where nothing is left out. Where we consider the future – seven generations into the future. I dare to dream of this world, for it is in the dreaming that the reality will emerge.

Uncle Bob, though a chemical engineer, a rational guy, had a real spark, a great sense of humour, a talent as a painter, and a whimsical ability to dream. His final dream, which seemed impossible, and unlikely, as he grew weaker and weaker, was to see the fabled Sandhill Cranes of New Mexico.   He would often talk about doing the journey but it seemed unlikely.  But he did, he pulled it off.  One last dream.  He was witness to a huge flock of the vast birds, rising from a lake as the sun set, a majestic sight of  awe inspiring liberation.  And then he joked, “okay, I can die now.”  And not too much later, he did.  Now, he is at peace.

When I received the news that he had passed on, I was walking on the street in New York City.  A few moments later I looked in a store window, where there was a picture of the Dalai Lama, and this inscription: “Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to have woken up, I am alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it, I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others, to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings, I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others, I am going to benefit others as much as I can.”

Uncle Bob didn’t wake up this morning, but we did.  The least we could is celebrate this life, open our hearts, and see how we can make this world a better place.   Let us wake up not only physically, but spiritually.   Every moment is precious, so very precious.  We always think that death is something that always comes to other people, but one day, we will not wake up.  So now is the time, the time is now.  Wake up!