Let me start by saying that there is nothing wrong with praying.
Throwing positive energy into the universe can only be a good thing. And there are plenty of reputable studies to show the benefits of prayer and meditation on stress levels and brain activity. So, by all means, pray. But once you’re done praying make sure you spend some time creating the world you have just finished asking for. Remember, your deity’s only hands are those of its followers.
And a quick note for those of you who have used the hashtags prayforparis, or prayforhumanity, but have neither prayed nor taken action: don’t be that person. You have the power to bring so much relief in a world of pain. Use that power for good, not for gaining likes and comments.
So what can you do for humanity?
…Learn about it
There are many ways to do this. Read stories written from different view points, meet people from different backgrounds, travel. These are the best (and the funnest) ways to develop an appreciation for the things that make us different – like tiles in a complex mosaic – and the things that make us the same.
And there’s also watching the news. Keeping in mind that blogs, talk shows, religous publications and a Current Affair, are not news. Even the news has to be watched with the critical thinking part of your brain switched on. Television channels pursue ratings over truth. A fair proportion has to be the truth, or noone would bother watching. But it isn’t always the truth (Media Watch has many examples) and it is rarely the whole truth.
Just remember that anything you hear, from anyone (even me!!) comes through a filter of prejudices, experiences, hopes and adgendas. Learning to unpick the facts from the soup of human BS is a very important skill.
…Contribute to it
Wherever there are people trying to tear humanity down, there are people working to build it back up again. Whether it’s through actual building and construction, through the provision of essential services, or just the provision of arms to cry in.
You can be one of these people in your own community, but if you want to go one step further and help out in other communities around the world, then donate to a cause. The IFRC (known in Australia as the Red Cross) performs great work around the globe. From responding with blood and emergency assistance to the victims of our Black Saturday bushfires, to the needs of refugees fleeing Syria – if you are looking for a cause, these guys are a worthy one. They are also on the ground responding to the Paris attacks, so it’s a great choice if you are particularly interested in helping there.
In a world where life holds such little value, there will always be strife. In the west we are happy to trade the length and quality of life experienced by millions around the world for cheaper access to clothes, cosmetics and household goods. Don’t even get me started on oil.
Make consumer choices that enhance humanity, not detract from it.
And go hug someone.