An underwater guide to life

by Annette Bridges. © 2008. All rights reserved.

I felt like I was visiting another world. And I suppose that’s exactly what my husband and I did when we toured the mysterious world under the sea. During the time we were in Maui, a day rarely went by without us snorkeling in the crystal-blue waters.

I can’t help but think of and appreciate Jacques-Yves Cousteau. The goggles he designed enabled him to explore the breathtaking and awe-inspiring world under the sea. And now his creation had enabled us to do the same.

We were never alone in our fascination and exploration. Whether by boat or beach, we and our fellow adventurers respectfully entered the ocean to observe its domain. We were all immensely curious and reverent as we peered into a realm so unlike our own. And there was a great desire to learn and understand more about this foreign underwater land and its inhabitants.

As I came eye to eye with many a fish, I wondered what they thought about their nosy intruders. I wanted to assure them to have no fear, that I would do them no harm — that I only wanted to look and relish the beauty and uniqueness of their world. But they didn’t seem to mind their onlookers as they continued about their business.

Wintertime in Maui means seeing mother and baby humpback whales. In fact, they are why my husband and I save for this incredible trip again and again. We love to see and admire these enormous and intriguing mammals.

Reflecting on this underwater world tour prompts me now to ponder how truly wide the world is — filled with many different people and cultures, ambitions and tastes. And I wonder if I could ever approach the rest of this great, big world of ours with the same consideration, courtesy and civility that I give to our underwater land and friends.

We make every attempt not to disturb or harm the coral or any part of the ocean world when we visit. But do I give the same care and concern to the land upon which I live?

When it comes to people who have different interests from mine or who have different backgrounds, different opinions or who are different from me in any way, do I have an earnest desire to know more about them? Do I sincerely and respectfully want to understand why they think or believe the way they do? Do I give the same respect to other cultures and customs that I give to the underwater world that is equally foreign to mine?

Perhaps it seems a stretch to compare my response to life under the sea with life on land, but these are some of the thoughts that I’ve been pondering since my return from my underwater excursions.

It has occurred to me that I need to be sure that consideration, courtesy and civility guide my attitudes and actions on land and sea in everything I do and with everyone I meet. And I think I need to do a much better job of this. These life values should come as natural on land as they do when I am snorkeling in the ocean waters.

Peter, one of the apostles of Jesus, elaborated on what it means to show consideration, courtesy and civility when he said, “Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble” (1 Peter 3:8). All are attitudes and actions that further express what it means to live by the Golden Rule established by Jesus — “as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise” (Luke 6:31).

It’s poignant to me that no matter what life lesson I’m learning, the Golden Rule is found at the basis. So yet again I’ve discovered this simple command, when followed, to be the ultimate and universal guide to a life lived in unity and peace.