Deacon David Palmer reflects on the uniqueness of every person and their contribution to the world.
Hello, I'm Dave Palmer, Catholic Chaplain and it's my privilege to share a thought with you today.
I was surprised recently to hear of a BBC investigation into problems with Apetamin, an unauthorised drug designed to help people gain weight. This was news to me; I am so used to being bombarded by TV adverts on how to lose weight. We have tanning salons and bottles of fake tan to help people darken their skin and yet if you Google "Skin whitening" you get five and a half million references to choose from.
It is true that many products can and do help people with medical conditions but the world seems to be ignoring the sensible advice given some 3,000 years ago: "Do not covet your neighbour's stuff." That includes not just what they own, but who they are.
The unhappiness caused by jealousy, envy, fear of missing out and wishing you were someone else has always been a problem; but what is new is the media's power to feed these emotions until they become an obsession, which can take over and ruin people's lives.
Blessed Carlo Acutis - who died of leukaemia in 2006, aged only 15 - spent much of his life using the internet to encourage people to simply be themselves. He said "Everyone is born an original, but many people end up dying as photocopies."
When the Prophet Moses asked God his name, God simply replied "I am who I am." I believe that God says to each one of us "You are who you are." I also believe God made each one of us and that He does not make mistakes. We all have our own place in the world, things that only we can do; and that means we do not need to worry about trying to be someone else - someone we are not, and were never meant to be.
You are you. No one else can be you. You have gifts and talents to use in ways other people cannot. You meet people that others will not meet. Life is about being the best person you can be. Only you can be you. We are all unique. There is great sadness in seeing people wasting their lives trying to be someone else. It is ok to follow a good example, to try to better ourselves, but for each of us our life is ours to be lived and I think we only get one life.
I pray that the peace and grace of God will be with you and those you love throughout the year ahead and that you may truly know the joy of being you and bringing love to others in whatever ways you can.