There is only one problem in life: to live for oneself or to live to serve others. The latter is expensive, beautiful and fruitful. Expensive, of course, because we are all selfish. After all, what do we all want if not to be loved? No matter how much we dress it up, all our heart does is beg for love. Without it, we live like skinned people. And we live badly without skin.
There is a universal tendency to focus on our own interests and needs, without paying any attention to those of others. A word that has become fashionable in the language of the educated describes it: “self-referentiality“. It denounces the enclosure in the ivory tower of one’s own “ego”, the splendid isolation from everything that does not affect that singular “ego”.
Years ago, an Italian film director, Alejandro Blasetti, made a curious film with the title “Me, me, me… and the others“, starring well-known actors of the time. As a denunciation of this universal tendency, the title was most suggestive. In reality, it is all of us who seek in one way or another to place ourselves at the centre, looking only at ourselves, massaging the “ego”, pampering it, incensing it and… leaving others on the sidelines. It is not only selfishness or egocentrism; it is, in the end, even poverty of words, of ideas, of interests… that mutate into illiterates of love.
And so the world is not divided into the selfish and the generous, but into selfish people who wallow in their own selfishness and other selfish people who fight hard to get out of themselves, even though they know that they will pay dearly the price of preferring to love rather than just be loved.
There is a strange story going around whose author imagined that, for one day, Christ was doing the miracles that He liked to do and not the ones people asked Him to do. And that, on a road in Palestine, a beautiful girl appeared before Him and presented Him with the most painful of healings: she was so beautiful that everyone loved her, but she loved no one. Desired by all, she was dragging along a useless and fruitless beauty. And she asked Christ for the greatest miracle of all: to grant her the gift of love.
Christ then looked at her with emotion and compassion and asked her: “Do you know that if you love, you will have to live uphill? The girl replied: “I know, Lord, but I prefer it to this dead joy, this useless happiness”. Now Christ smiled at her and said: “Well, get up and love, girl. Enter the terrible world of those who prefer to love rather than to be loved”. And the girl went away with her soul multiplied, ready to swim happily against the current of life.
The fable is surely nonsensical, but “very true”. Because – those who fight against the “ego” know it – to love in the short run is very sweet; in the long run, hard; more in the long run, marvellous.
Juan Carlos cmf
(PHOTO: Michael Fenton)