Not for ourselves alone.
(pron = nohn NOH-bees SOH-loom)
Comment: We don't do things for ourselves alone, otherwise we are just selfish
boors. That's how this motto is often taken, I am afraid. There is so much
more here, though, and it has little to do with selfishness. In fact, like so
many proverbs, it cuts in two directions.
First, it recognizes that there is an interconnection between all of life. I am
not an isolated individual, and the things that happen in my life today reflect
back to me what is going on within me. Most specifically, the people and
situations that I find myself most reactive to have the most to show me about
myself. The universe is an interconnected weave. We are not isolated. We are
not separate. What is happening to Iraqis is happening to Americans, for
example. Eventually, our drinking water will be dirty, too.
Second, if we fall into the trap of "self denial", and always doing everything
for others, we will turn every event, every act, every thought, every gesture
of kindness into martyrdom (I am suffering for someone else's good). Our
ultimate death becomes a sentence of guilt on those for whom we have "given our
The best gift we can give others around us is to find the center of our own
lives, live them fully, with compassion for ourselves first. And, because all
things are deeply connected, others will experience good benefits from the fact
that we honored and cared for our own selves.
(Used with permission)
Latin Proverb of the Day is now available on the web.