“The true value of a human being is determined primarily by the measure and the sense in which he has attained liberation from the self.”
– Albert Einstein
When Project Somos received the nine The Project-Guatemala participants, it was hoped that they would be transformed from egotistical, self-centred individuals of entitlement into an unselfish, hard working group that cared about the welfare of someone else, other than themselves. That’s a tall order for 42 days, but that is the goal and premise of the show.
For the readers that have endeavoured to make steps in the direction of self development, spirituality, building character, or losing some bad habits to become a better human being, you will know that it is not easy or quick, no matter what you label it. It is an ongoing process, and for some, a life’s work.
Often some desire of change is triggered by a trauma, hitting bottom, being inspired or by a personal dysfunction that becomes unbearable. There are no certain outcomes, but there is always the potential of betterment of character and healing – perhaps losing destructive personality traits like anger, resentment, envy or self-loathing. Taking action after a trigger point is optional, but advisable, for the sake of long-term happiness and fulfilment.
For the nine, young TV participants, they did not specifically choose to be transformed, but rather chose to stay and work with Project Somos. As most of our voluntary volunteers know, the experience of offering time, energy and resources to assist abandoned kids in Guatemala, can be an eye opening and heart expanding experience.
Human transformation has some ingredients that make a favourable environment for the process of becoming a functioning human being; gratitude, humility and love. Volumes have been written on the subject by the wise over many millennia. I will give a thumbnail description in a few paragraphs.
There is a deep happiness in unselfish giving. This extends beyond the giving of material things to giving of one’s talents, time, character and love. Altruism is actually a selfish activity because one receives much more than one gives and true philanthropists know the deep satisfaction of reaching out without any desire of a return. “As we give, so shall we receive” is more than an aphorism, it is a formula for happiness.
Gratitude, in the definition I use, is the awareness of privilege. The absence of gratitude of the participants was obvious to all in the first and second episodes. They had no real idea or inventory of their privileges as young Canadians. As time went on they began to see their obvious privileges like hot showers, flush toilets and the material abundance of Canada. Did they become aware of the privilege of opportunities, you’ll have to wait and see.
“Never be satisfied, always be grateful.”
Humility is the awareness of our dependence on each other. This would have been a natural asset in the very different/difficult circumstances the participants found themselves in. Unfortunately, as we saw, independence and self-centredness prevailed and interdependence and helping each other was not activated for their mutual benefit. Independence morph into a very negative and destructive “us and them”/ Lord of the Flies scenario. It was disturbing to watch.
Thousands of songs and poems have declared the transformational power of Love. Even sports fans are united in their mutual love of the particular sport. Mothers overcome life-threatening circumstances with unconditional love for their child. Caring for each other is the name of the game. What’s the prize? Love and happiness. Love is more than attraction and hooking up, it is bearing each other’s pain and suffering and sharing each other’s joys. Love is the magic ingredient of transformation. What did the participants love? Did they rise above loving their image in the mirror they choose?
“Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.”
– Albert Einstein
Stay tuned, it’s quite a ride,
– Greg, Project Manager