Through the years, I've read many articles (and books) that recommend minding your own business. Never mind trying to "fix" the lives of your friends and family or your neighbors... deal with your own life.
While I understand the concept of "keeping your nose out of others' business", I still find that I often disagree with that advice.
Let me give you a few examples of when not to mind "your own business":
Let's say you're walking along and come across a dog who is laying in the sun, panting, and obviously dehydrated. There is a bowl next to him, and he repeatedly licks it, only to find not a drop of water in the bowl. You have your bottle of water with you... Do you "mind your own business" and walk on, or do you stop and share some of your water with the dog? I hope the answer is obvious: Don't "mind your own business". Give the dog some water and possibly save its life.
You may be familiar with the story of the child who is walking down a beach which is covered with stranded starfish that have been washed ashore. Now, if he "minded his own business", he would just ignore their plight and walk along. However, he chooses to "stick his nose" in their business and save their lives. As he walks along, he stops and picks up one starfish after another and throws them back in the water.
Ah, but you might say: It might be the karma or life path of those starfish to die on that beach. I would respond that walking by and ignoring their plight would not only affect the starfish but would harden and close the heart of the child. Perhaps, the question is not so much about minding our business, but minding our heart.
And What About Humans?
I feel the same applies to our interactions with other humans. I think we've perhaps hidden behind the admonition to not meddle in someone else's life and used it to take the easy way out. After all, it is often difficult and sometimes even risky to step up with caring and compassion for our neighbors, our co-workers, and any one we come across.
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When and how do we decide what is our business and what isn't? If we see a child being bullied, is that our business? If we see someone trip and fall, is that our business? If a friend is in pain and could use a helping and loving hand, is that not our business?
Here's another example. Someone I know had cleaned her car's interior, and had parked the car out in the yard in the sunshine with all doors and windows and sunroof open to give it a chance to air out. However, unbeknownst to her, the lawn's sprinkler which was on a timer, started running. It was set to run for about an hour. During that time, one of the neighbors drove by and saw the jets of water spraying heavily into the car. The neighbor, minding his own business, just went on home and didn't say a thing. The car's interior consequently got soaked and needed quite a bit of work to get the water out.
So... the neighbor minded his business. But was that the neighborly or kind thing to do? Minding our own business can be a callous or unloving way to act. Rather than following that old dictum, perhaps we need to revise it to "minding our heart" and base our actions and choices on love.
Everyone is Our Business
With the advent of the internet, it seems like "our business" has expanded, not just to our immediate family and environment, but to the entire planet.
If we believe we are all one, or that we are all created in the image of the creator, then we are family... we are all brothers and sisters in humanity. And if our brother or sister is hurting, is angry, is hungry for food or love, isn't that our business? Isn't saying otherwise just an excuse to not get involved, to not participate, to avoid getting hurt, or perhaps rejected or judged ourselves?
I believe our new rule needs to be that if there's something we can do to alleviate the hurt and suffering we see, then we need to do it... in whatever way feels right for us. For some, it may be as simple as signing a petition, or donating some money, for others it may call for a hands-on participation in one way or another. Each person's action will be different based on the message from their own heart and inner guidance.
The Planet Is Our Business
The planet is our home. We have a responsibility to ourselves and to our planetary home to take action whenever we see a path to take. Rather than say "well that's none of my business", let's ask "what can I do?". If we ask ourselves that question sincerely and listen to the response of our heart, we will be doing good for ourselves as well as for others.
It is a complicated and interconnected world we now live in, yet it's always up to us to make a difference. The time of stepping back and saying "it's none of my business" has to be over. The consequences are now too catastrophic. It is our world, it is our business.
If a nuclear bomb explodes three miles from our house, that will be our business, and if it explodes 3000 miles away, that's still our business. If the sea level is rising and people the world over will soon be flooded and devastated, even if we live in the mountains, that still is our business. If people are killed out of hatred or neglect in our town, in our country, that is our business -- and if it happens on the other side of the planet, that's still our business.
We need to examine our heart and see how we can:
1) live our own life based on love rather than fear and anger;
2) share that willingness to love with others, even if they don't think like we do; and
3) take action.
Is Your Life Any of My Business?
If you think that your life is none of my business, you're wrong. Since you're reading this, we are connected and thus you are my business. You're in my sphere of influence, just as everyone you come into contact with is also in your sphere of influence (your aura, your energy, your life), thus they are your business and your responsibility. You are response-able or "able to respond" to their needs.
If someone you know has a problem, and you happen to know how to resolve or heal the problem, do you share, or do you mind your own business? If someone complains of a bad back, and you happen to know of a great exercise, or therapist, or gizmo to help with the problem, do you mind your own business, or do you share the info?
In the way I see things, not sharing your knowledge is being unloving, uncaring, unhelpful. Now of course, the goal is to share and then let go of any attachment to whether the person follows your suggestion. You simply deliver the message. You are not responsible for their choices or their actions, only yours. Share the information, the insight, the perspective, and then let it go.
We are all in this together, and the sooner we start recognizing that and living with that premise in mind, the sooner we can see changes occur in our lives and the lives of others. When we start with love in our heart, and take actions that come from love and seeking to understand and heal, rather than judge or fear, we'll be on the right path... one day at a time, one action at a time, one thought at a time... one dog, one starfish, one neighbor at a time.
About The Author
Marie T. Russell is the founder of InnerSelf Magazine (founded 1985). She also produced and hosted a weekly South Florida radio broadcast, Inner Power, from 1992-1995 which focused on themes such as self-esteem, personal growth, and well-being. Her articles focus on transformation and reconnecting with our own inner source of joy and creativity.
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