OK, before all the non-fundamentalists out there roll their collective eyes, let there be at least some willingness to keep an open mind. Whether you’re an unabashed bible-thumper or someone who does not mind learning from various sources, you must admit that this ancient book has a great deal of wisdom in its pages. You can learn about life, even if you’re not a believer, and often about the things necessary to maintain a healthy body and mind as well as soul, from the Holy Bible.
In this instance particularly, try examining Chapter 6, Verse 8 of the book of the prophet Micah. Whether you’re an academic skeptic who claims that none of these supposed authors in the Old Testament really existed, or a die-hard atheist who believes we all evolved from nothing, there is something in this verse that makes sense. To put it in modern language, despite the proliferation of different versions out there, the basic message is as follows:
“What is good has been explained to you: live justly, love tenderly, and walk humbly with your God.”
Not really as simple to follow as it sounds, for most people, and surely open to debate as to how carry out these instructions. Yet for anyone from any walk of life, the basic advice given herein shows how to keep life in balance. To “live justly” implies that you should not do harm to others. It tells us that we are all part of a world that is composed of creatures interdependent on each other. To treat others fairly, as the Golden Rule indicates (another biblical instruction, from the New Testament, by the way), as we ourselves wish to be treated, is the way to maintain harmony among all inhabitants of the planet. Then we ensure a healthy environment, from a physical point of view as well as emotionally and mentally. If you don’t want your health negatively affected, for example, why dump toxins in the local water source? Your fellow earth inhabitants will be sharing the water with you, and you would feel angry as well as concerned for your well-being if they, in turn, polluted the environment. All we do, in other words, comes back around to us in time, so it’s best to “live justly” and cause no intentional harm.
What about the “love tenderly” part? To harbor ill-will towards others is the opposite, and is certainly a form of emotional toxin that harms us as well as those to whom it is intended. Why lie awake plotting revenge against enemies, when it will most likely cause you more trouble than enjoyment? In relationships, there is responsibility on both sides. Doing your best to keep peace in the home, or among other people, isn’t easy many times. Keeping some relationships alive may not even be a good idea. You need to love yourself, as well, and this may involve protection against those who use you and do you harm. To “love tenderly” in general, then, keep your own mental and emotional health in good shape and you’ll be able to handle what life (and people) throw at you more easily.
Maintain healthy perspectives not only in relationships with humans but the rest of the world, too. This refers in some ways back to the first instruction—be in harmony with the rest of creation and love it as well. If you act with contempt toward the earth, mistreating it, someday you’ll find it won’t be too supportive of you, either. Dealing in an unloving way with your own health either by that means or directly, such as through willful bad health habits, can also be harmful to your life. “Love tenderly”, therefore, applies to our interactions not only with the people around us but our world, and our selves.
To “walk humbly with your God” may make some grit their teeth, not only for the indication that there is any Supreme Being, but the whole concept of humility. Many people today reject the notion of a need for humility. They misconstrue this as being in a state of humiliation. Instead, it is simply the realization that you’re not the center of the universe. Surprised? Well, when you can take absolutely nothing and make stuff out of it, then you can say you have no need for humility. In the meantime, for the rest of us, there is peace to be found by seeing our place in the whole of creation. You are as important as the next person, or as the air you breathe, the water your body needs for life. Take away the air or water or destroy them, and see how long life is sustainable. Think your rights supersede those of other species, or even other humans? That’s how wars begin.
Instead of putting yourself ahead of others and always having to come first, look at yourself more honestly. Your needs for food, shelter, clean air and water, are shared with the rest of the planet and its inhabitants. We can choose to “walk humbly” in unity and help each other survive and prosper, or we can fight each other for the supposed right to come out on top of the heap. That heap will be composed not of the spoils of our war for domination of the planet, but on the smoldering bodies of all we have destroyed.
So please take this instruction, even if you care nothing for its source, as worth following. It contains the best prescription for healthy living with a balance of body, mind and spirit you’ll ever find.