Can Humanity Be Saved?

“The only thing that is going to save mankind is if enough people live their lives for something or someone other than themselves.”

~Leon Uris

Leon Marcus Uris (1924 – 2003) was an American Jewish writer from Baltimore, Maryland. During World War II, Uris served in the U.S. Marines, and that experience gave him the background and expertise to write his best-selling historical novel Battle Cry. He helped write the screenplay for the Hollywood movie that followed the book’s success.

As a high school student in the 1960s, I cultivated a keen interest in historical fiction and read just about everything written by Thomas Costain and Leon Uris. I admired Uris’ writing style and was quite surprised to discover that he never graduated from high school himself. I would never have guessed that he failed high school English courses three times!

Despite his abysmal record in academics, his life experiences and keen mind led him to deeply philosophical conclusions like the one quoted above. He saw just one way out of self-destruction for humankind, and that was to turn away from the individualism that had become narcissistic. Too many of us live our lives terribly self-absorbed and look upon others as allies who will help us to achieve our goals, or as rivals and foes. Either way, the focus is upon self.

The beauty and fashion industries feed off our apparent need to measure up to impossible standards of physical beauty. The fitness industry doesn’t advertise the achievement of good health as its primary purpose; no, we will feel better when we look better. The downside to this preoccupation with physical beauty is the psychological suffering it causes the less attractive people to inflict upon themselves.

When we are self-absorbed, we will naturally come into conflict with others who are also preoccupied with their well-being exclusively. On the larger scale, nations which cannot see past their national interest and feel no compunction to share the incredible wealth of Mother Earth with developing countries will find themselves in a constant state of warfare. Unenlightened self-interest breeds distrust and hatred, which results in violence.

In the Twentieth Century we just barely escaped mutual destruction in the Cold War. As economic realities led to the demise of Communism, we thought we were home free. We in the free West had won! One year into the new millennium witnessed another type of global war – a holy war – waged by Muslim extremists who unleashed global terrorism. The response of the West was to launch the War on Terrorism, and the first theatre of that war was Afghanistan.

My life experience has taught me that there are individuals and organisations who live by these words by Leon Uris. They live and breathe and work for the well-being of others as they help the people of poorer nations by bringing them education, medical provisions, and teaching them how to feed and fend for themselves.

I heard a statistic today that sent cold shivers down my spine. The eight wealthiest individuals in the world together represent more wealth than the poorest 50% of the population of the world. I am dumbfounded! It is the wealthy that are directing the decision-making of the most powerful governments in the world. How can this translate into world peace?

Many of us wondered back in November how a man like Donald Trump could be elected to the U.S. Presidency? Within the States, the desire for substantial change was undeniable, and Trump was the one most likely to deliver. As I think about that, I wonder how substantive his changes will be when he is among the very wealthy. I’m sure many of his supporters will be sorely disappointed.

A theme I often come back to is that we are delusional if we think that significant change will be led by our elected governments. Leon Uris puts the responsibility right back into the hands of the individual “… if enough people live their lives for something or someone other than themselves.” The question remains, will these kinds of selfless persons be influential enough to direct government policy? I hope so because the future of humanity depends upon it.

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Author: John Fioravanti

I'm a retired History teacher (35 years), husband, father of three, grandfather of three. My wife, Anne, and I became business partners in December, 2013, and launched our own publishing company, Fiora Books (http://fiorabooks.com), to publish my books. We have been married since 1973 and hope our joint business venture will be as successful as our marriage.

24 thoughts on “Can Humanity Be Saved?”

  1. John, you are not the only one dismayed at what is taking place in the US. 😥 It was so heart-warming to see the world march with the women in the US. It reminds us all that although we are all individuals, we are also all ONE. I truly hope our new President learns humility and compassion and empathy for others, but I haven’t seen it yet. So, it will be up to the citizens to remind our leaders that the country belongs to its people, not the person sitting on the throne. Thank you for this article.

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    1. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts, Yvette. Our two countries share common values, culture and history. The bond is between our people more than our governments. Women’s issues used to be just that – women’s issues. Now they belong to all men and women who believe in equality and justice. I cringed as I listened to Trump vilify previous political leaders and administrations – while many of those sat close to him and listened stone-faced. He is too narcissistic to learn anything from anyone else. I hope I’m wrong. Thanks for your ongoing support!

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  2. How about those women around the world who showed up to say enough we are here & will make a difference! Thanks for the wake up call there is an awakening going on in the millennium of The Goddess Energy!! Well Done! Cheers! Betty

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  3. While I have read many novels by Leon Uris, I don’t remember ever seeing this quote in one of his books or as a personal quote. Yes, we should be more concerned for others while taking responsibility for ourselves. Government cannot solve our individual problems but can assist in a general way. I agree with you in that I think Trump’s supporters will be disappointed when he does nothing for them or makes the changes he promised. Personally, I think he will fail on his own. I have not decided if I will watch the inauguration or not.

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    1. I think the quote came from his last novel, Jo. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. At first I thought I would boycott the Inauguration, but now I plan to watch it. I want to see if he can behave himself and refrain from sneering at people on his big day.

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  4. Another wonderful, insightful post, John! That statistic shocked me as well. I can say I’ve never felt more unsettled by world events as I do now. It is my hope and prayer that we do better, not because we should, but because we want to and can. Thanks for sharing this with us.

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    1. I appreciate both your kind words and your thoughts on this topic, Natalie. I think the whole world is holding its collective breath as we wait for The Donald to take centre stage. Thanks for your ongoing support!

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  5. I have to agree that those who place trust that the government will act in their best interest will suffer the consequences of such naivety. The Trump victory was an outpouring of this mentality. It was a revolution not necessarily for the individual but against the status quo. I’m afraid as the populace discovers how the solution measures up to expectation, the next revolution won’t be with ballots. We’ll done, John.

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    1. I appreciate your point of view, John, and your unstinting support. I share your fear about the nature of the next revolution. I decided that I would watch the Inauguration just to see how outrageous Trump will be on his big day.

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  6. This quote and the article gives a great insight into who we really are, human individuals who only look out for themselves. Great world advancements have happened only when this individual being forgets self, and works for the good of others, and even then, with underlying self interest. Isn’t it funny to think that man can never give without wanting a hundred fold in return? The past has taught us nothing! That is why I believe that we will eventually self destroy. :(. Thank you John for sharing.

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  7. You have written a very intelligent article, John. You make many great points. Government is the problem, not the solution. Here in the States, we the people are no longer represented by those we’ve elected. As you pointed out so clearly, big money calls the shots. The problem is rooted in the Republican and Democratic parties. These are the very sources of our failings as Americans. And yet we still vote for the next puppet these two parties offer up as the next president, senator, or governor. Until we sweep out both of these parties – at least here in the States – we will never see real change. But that won’t happen because too many gullible souls still believe that their party has it right, their party is the way to go, their party cares.

    We were never meant to be a two-party system. That term is found nowhere in the U.S. Constitution. It’s a term created by the supporters of the two parties that have held a death grip on American politics for far too long. The incoming president offers something none of the other candidates could claim: President Trump is a true outsider to American politics. Will this be enough? That will be revealed in due time.

    I happen to believe in the individual. Not the self-centered monsters that we see splattered all over social media today. I believe that God has made each of us unique. We all possess talents, skills, and abilities that can benefit many rather than self. The collective needs to be made up of individuals or we will surely fail. We cannot all be presidents or doctors or preachers or school teachers. But it doesn’t take a degree or a license to share a kind word with somebody who is struggling. It doesn’t take wealth to volunteer at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen. What we all have in this very moment is time. If we are alive and able-bodied, we can contribute.

    This world is not meant to be perfect. We will never build Utopia. Jesus Christ Himself said, “You will always have the poor among you, and you can help them whenever you want to. But you will not always have me.” It takes a selfless person to give up time to help another. If we each seek to be of use to just one other person in this world, we’ll most certainly witness real change. But are there enough people in this world to take up that call?

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    1. Hi, Beem – you just wrote a very intelligent article too! Thanks for sharing these thoughts. In Canada, our two main parties are the only ones to have ever won federal elections. The other smaller parties have acted as spoilers to prevent majority victories at times. You’re right, real change has to come from the outside.

      I’m just dismayed that the US voters put a boorish billionaire into the Oval Office. As you say, time will tell. I saw one US voter interviewed about why he voted for Trump. He said he was desperate for change – ANY change is better than none! Scary!

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  8. Great article, John, very thought-provoking. Without a doubt, the U.S. citizens voted for change. My sincerest hope is that our new President is able to set aside self-serving solutions and summon deep altruism for the sake of the good of the country. I will re-blog….:)

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    1. Thanks for your kind words and the reblog, Gwen! I sincerely hope you’re right – but the welfare of the U.S.A. is not the only thing at stake when the President of the United States is also the leader of the free world… not sure “free world” is an accurate descriptor anymore!

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  9. I totally agree with you, John. 😦
    With Trump taking the US presidency this week, and in the UK, our seemingly leaving the European Union with increasing bad grace, is all symptomatic of ‘me/us first’ mentality. The problem with both of these political shifts – egged on by charismatic, yet ultimately wholly selfish propaganda, is that the people who do recognise this problem, start to get alienated against ‘establishment’ politics. Historically in the UK, voter apathy tends to be the result, rather it galvanising folk who don’t like the result to keep trying to fight for change.
    There are seeds of hope appearing. On this side of the pond, more conservative (in the attitude sense rather than party politics) and reasoned responses to Brexit are starting to pop up. The Scots are proposing that they take a a less radical route to the rest of country that might leave an open door for future trading with the EU.The Prime Minister is now pushing a ‘clean divorce’ policy that may not burn as many bridges…
    We’ll see. I can hope that the voting public can be persuaded to undo the potential harm of isolationist and self-promoting ‘leaders’, but I fear this upcoming generation, milk-fed on reality TV and social-media hype may be too far-gone in the ‘me first’ culture.

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    1. Thanks for chiming in and giving us your perspective from the UK, Jan. Unfortunately, the culture of entitlement seems to grow stronger by the day. Speaking of Trump, we have two Trump wannabes that are running for the leadership of our federal Conservative Party. The one is openly disrespectful of our Prime Minister and refers to him as #Surferdude. Monkey see, monkey do. If it works for Trump, it’ll work for anyone!

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  10. Hi John,
    I cannot say what the new government will do because I believe in giving each new government an opportunity to prove itself. However, I do agree with the statement by Leon Marcus Uris. I too have read all of his books.
    Stephen Covey, once said, give a man a fish and eats for one day, but if you show him how to fish he can eat as much as he wants, when he wants it. (My paraphrasing) In other words, he can take care of himself. I believe every man and woman has the right to have the opportunity to get to learn, to enjoy higher education, to earn money that will not only take care of their needs but will allow them to enjoy the pleasures they want to enjoy in life.
    I also believe there are people in this world living their lives for the good of others, but I don’t believe in making people helpless by taking away their will to help themselves as much as they can. Yes, we need more people willing to live not only for themselves but for others also, and we need to educate the people in poverty on how to take care of themselves so that they are not dependent on handouts from other nations. I think that is what most people want. To be able to take care of themselves.
    Great article. I enjoyed it. It made me think.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat

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