Judge Lawrence Huerta: Enriching Our Lives
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Enriquezca Su Vida
(Enriching Your Life)

A self-published book by Judge Lawrence Huerta
©1968.

translation by Anthony Nuño, 1999.

CHAPTER XXII:
"THE MERIT OF SELF-RESONSIBILITY"

"Forgive yourself, look at the good within yourself, express it
and wait for it to come back to you."

-- ROBERT BROWNING

"To thine own self be true," these are the words said by old Polonius to his son Laertes, and these words should be part of the basic philosophical principles of each individual. Shakespeare's lines continue: "...and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man."

Determine your life in such a way that you will be prepared to take your rightful place in society.

How many individuals are there who perform their daily tasks as a mere sacrifice for others especially for those whom they love? They never do it for self-satisfaction. Stop and carefully examine the sacrifices which take up most of your precious time and energy. Are these sacrifices really necessary? We are so entrenched in the existing stereotypes of our society that we automatically move at their command. Doctor Eric Berne in his book titled The Games We Play clearly exposes this problem. The rational person carefully reflects upon these so called obligations. Sincerely analyze the daily sacrifices you are asked to perform. Do these sacrifices contribute to your personal and intellectual growth? Do they have a use in contemporary society? If not, you better reconsider them. To make this point even clearer, I will ask you the following questions. Maybe they can relate to your situation. Is it impossible for you to seek a higher education because your family's needs? It is okay that your family is experiencing hardships presently, because later they will appreciate the benefits of a higher education. Are you in a situation that you are forced to put up with a stubborn relative or friend? Let him know in a few but definite words that you are not willing to accept his improper behavior. If you truly wish to utilize your aptitudes and contribute with your best to society, you will not be able to accomplish this if your life is oppressed by tyrannies. You will be able to accomplish it only after you gain your complete freedom. I am not advising you to avoid responsibilities, but instead, to rationally assess and define these responsibilities you have towards others and especially to yourself. For instance, society establishes that one of the responsibilities pertains to the fact that parents must take care of their children. However, there are some limits to these responsibilities mandated by society. I know this intelligent woman who intensely wishes to go back to College, but she is not able to do it because her 18 year old son demands her time and attention, making a slave out of her. According to society's rules, both son and mother have the right to a fulfilled and happy life. It would be wise that both arrive at a mutual understanding, so the mother can satisfactorily accomplish her full potential. Otherwise, she will be a dependent person with no direction in life.

Each and every person is responsible for his own development and I consider it necessary to periodically stop and ask ourselves, "What is it that is really good for me?" In the long run, it will be good for others also. Some will say "This is selfish," but I would call it "constructive selfishness." God has granted each of us a life in which we have the right to exercise absolute control. We all are fully responsible before God as to how we would fulfill our life. If we allow others to misguide us, it will be no one's fault but our own. The responsibility to protect and fulfill this life lies with each and everyone of us. We all must exercise this responsibility even when we have to learn to say "no" for our own protection. Basically, we all are selfish and we all should shed this selfishness and contribute our virtues to the well being of society. Above all, we all have the responsibility to develop these virtues and when we are not giving ourselves to others, we are stalling and preventing this process.

The phrase "Man know yourself" is inscribed by the ancient Greeks in the temple of Delphos. It could not have been more accurate. How well do you know yourself? Do you have a clear notion of your capabilities? If you are experiencing shame for being negligent in the fulfillment of your life, you are denying yourself happiness, and if you are cowardly looking for a way to avoid responsibility, you are creating your own personal tragedy. Remember the example Jesus gave of the man who built his house on a rock foundation and the man who built it on sand. Build your life on solid rock with a strong foundation and you will be able to survive the storm.

Currently, society makes a lot of demands on us and expects that we correctly carry them out. However, we should question these demands. During our childhood, we are taught to be submissive but yet we are expected to be daring. Also, we are told to be modest regarding our triumphs and that we continue searching for these in an intrepid manner. Also, we are told to think of ourselves and that we humbly submit to any kind of authority. These demands are contradictory. For instance, religion often makes moral appeals (which most of the time turn out to be trivial) in order to keep us in line, resorting to the use of fear as a disciplinary method. It is amazing that we are not neurotic by the time we reach maturity, especially, since the little voice inside of us insists that we remain loyal to ourselves. But society demands that we act falsely and sanctimoniously. This results in creating a miserable little cat out of the raging lion.

Wouldn't it be practical to occasionally seek refuge in our personal and intimate sanctuary and listen to this little voice? Only this way can we truly define our highest desires to consummate them. Therefore, by serving ourselves correctly we serve others correctly. All people are inherently good and search for kindness, however, some people allow others to control and influence them and take them onto the wrong paths. Do not forget and abandon your real SELF. Only you are capable at guiding yourself along the appropriate path.

Perhaps your childhood was influenced by the social environment, just like any other person. But it is time to rationally think about these contradictions imposed by others because such contradictions are based on the fear of "what other people might think." These people fear criticism and being laughed at. Do not be afraid, study and analyze these obligations and expectations. Define them from your perspective and act accordingly to what your internal voice mandates.

We have been told many times that selfishness is a sin, but nobody has taught us the difference between cheap vanity and healthy selfishness, there is a remarkable difference which should be taken into consideration. The vain person only looks for the satisfaction of his ego at the expense of other people, these vain people are strange and socially maladjusted. With healthy selfishness we become aware of the rights and considerations we owe others and that others owe us. I believe it is important that we should recognize the difference between these attitudes and they should be accepted by social and religious institutions and society as a whole. Also, we should incorporate this kind of positive selfishness in our children, instead of a total lack of it as happens.

By establishing this precept we will be better human beings because it will teach us not to concentrate only in satisfying our ego, but also it will would prevent us from developing an internal conflict between our own principles and integrity and the obligations and expectations from society which encourages us to pretend. In this manner, this attitude would prevent us from instinctively fulfilling our goals and objectives, and if in some cases this would mean injuring someone, it would predispose us to assume total responsibility for our actions. As a result of the great contributions of its members, society could advance and the laws would play a minor role in society.

I do not intend to write another "Utopia," I only want to make you understand that if you find yourself weighted down in life due to the enormous weight of the wrong obligations and expectations, the only way to pull yourself out of the swamp in which you are trapped is by first eliminating all the insignificant demands imposed by tradition. Shake the oppressive burden that is sinking you, or at least try to find its proper place with respect to your own priorities. Consequently be daring and fight for your human rights, once you have accomplished this you will be able to move in one direction FORWARD.

ARE YOU AWARE OF YOUR OWN RESPONSIBILITIES? Do you have a sense of who you are spiritually?

WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO WITH YOUR LIFE? Do you understand that you and only you are responsible for the well being and fulfillment of the life that God gave you. Are you proud and satisfied with the progress in your life?

IF AT A STROKE OF A MAGIC WAND: If it would be possible for you to choose, what would you choose? What would you want? What roads would you consider best suited for the accomplishments of your desires? Perhaps you think you need to improve your spiritual life and increase your courage to face the obstacles in your life?

CHAPTER XXIII