Muhammed Ali: Butterflies, Bees and Humanity

June 7, 2016 | Nick Taylor

(By Tracy Holland) We’ve lost so many celebrities recently. It feels as if the tenure of my generation is coming to an end. The passing of Muhammed Ali is particularly personal to me because my dad was a huge boxing fan. I saw all Ali’s (and Clay’s) great fights despite being preschool age – it was history being written. Consummate in his field as a boxer, a fine entertainer and philanthropist, Muhammed Ali’s most precious legacy is the example he set. Humanity promoted through pugilism – ironic? No, a man doing what he believed was right.

Many boxers credit involvement in the sport for stopping them from following a shady path. There’s no doubt that thousands of youngsters have worked out their aggression in a boxing ring instead of on the streets because of Muhammed Ali. His supremacy, skill and style in the ring secured his place in history, his kindness and charity will be remembered for generations, but his courage outside the ring is the gift that will endure.

I won’t comment on the Vietnam War. It takes someone very special to follow their conscience instead of blindly obeying: to accept punishment and public degradation with dignity and without malice. By refusing to enlist he risked obscurity. Muhammed Ali chose integrity over celebrity and an assured future. His status meant he wouldn’t have served on the front line so the danger would have been minimal, and it was extremely unlikely he would’ve had to kill. For following his conscience he was sent to jail and his boxing licence was revoked for five years at the prime of his life. An inspiration to past, present and future generations – Muhammed Ali was the fighter who stood up for peace and humanity.

We’re all lost on this planet, searching for the key to survival and beyond. Our brains are hardwired to make choices in groups. It’s a behaviour pattern that still governs us in modern day. It’s entrenched in our existence, manifesting in almost every aspect of our lives, brightly illustrated by the trivia of fashion and the popularity of celebrity gossip. It’s against our base instincts to go against the crowd even over such mundane matters. From this bullying arises. The drive to prove oneself as part of the tribe is easiest to demonstrate by highlighting how others differ. It takes someone very special to stand alone in the spotlight. Thinking for yourself and acting upon your conclusions often means swimming against the tide and that takes strength and courage.

Our THINK programme exposes the effect of the group mind-set and equips individuals to think for themselves and to safely communicate their opinions. We all know that just because someone else does something it doesn’t make it right, but moving against the herd or questioning their decisions can be difficult and frightening. Acting like or on behalf of others – any others – does not allow us to abdicate our personal responsibility. We’ve still made the choice even if we’ve blindly followed. Thinking for ourselves is empowering: often we will make the same choice as others, but it should always be the product of our own evaluation.

The quality of any choice is dependent upon the information we gather. To make good choices we need to listen to our own conscience, to others who have relevant experience and – most usefully – to those whose opinions differ from our own.

Conflict cannot be resolved by aggression or suppression but only by dialogue. History shows that violence doesn’t solve anything. There has never been a war that hasn’t deferred the issue being fought over to plague future generations. Each one of us is unique, and each of us has many precious contributions we can make to humanity, so let’s talk – all of humanity talking together – we’ll resolve our problems permanently and much more quickly. The person to start the discussion is you, and the time to start is now – you’re much more important than you think!

Please donate now to help us to continue our work.