Be the Change

Think of the great revolutionaries of the past. They were people who wanted to change the world and that is what they did so. Moses pulled his people out of a 430 year span of slavery and created the catalyst for establishing a new nation in the Promised Land. Jesus established his kingdom, not on this earth but in heaven (a message that billions of people have believed in over the last two millennia). Mahatma Gandhi led a movement that ended up in an India free of British rule. Nelson Mandela, the same for South Africa.

The above are good examples of people who have changed the world. Many dream of changing the world, but only a few actually succeed. Do you have such aspirations? If you do, then…

DON’T –meet injustice with injustice. Is there anything worse than seeing one tyrant get replaced by another tyrant? The name at the top may change, but the world is never better for it.

DO –demonstrate a better way to do things. This may mean sacrificing yourself (or your ego) in order to get the message across. I’m always reminded of the Buddhist monk, Thích Quảng Đức. In 1963, he burned himself to death in a protest against persecution of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese government. His self-immolation was captured on film on a crowded street in Saigon. He never cried out but sat there meditating the whole time. This was the ultimate statement of protest.

Photograph by Malcolm Browne, Associated Press
Photograph by Malcolm Browne, Associated Press

DON’T –sit back and pass the blame. You have to move from “it is somebody else’s fault and problem” to “this is our problem.” When I was younger and an up and coming retail manager, I had the opportunity to work for some really horrible bosses. In their own unique ways, they were toxic elements within their organization. I didn’t know how to handle it. I knew it wasn’t fair to the people who worked under them, but I didn’t think I had to power to affect any changes. Only from experience and through a continuous education have I learned that I wasn’t a victim in these circumstances. These were obstacles with the opportunity to make a difference. Unfortunately at the time, I wasn’t ready. Whether on a global or an organizational scale, real change is made when we take ownership of the problems.

Do –lead by example. Jesus didn’t tell others to carry the cross with no intention of carrying His own. Gandhi didn’t suggest for others to suffer while he stayed safe. No. Instead they set the example for others to follow. It isn’t always easy holding ourselves to the highest standards possible, but it is necessary.

This week, I listened to The Tim Ferriss Show with Hugh Jackman (#444). Hugh made an interesting comment about his father that really resonated with me. His father pointed out that instead of making an outward show of your religion (bumper stickers and such), you have to wear your religion on the inside. How you act will always outweigh what you say. Who washes only the outside of the cup, when the inside is full of greed and self-indulgence (Luke 11:39)? Rather than giving the appearance of something we are not in order to change the world, we need to work on making those internal changes. Or as Mahatma Gandhi once said, and even better demonstrated, “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.”

Today is a good day to reflect on the changes I would like to see in the world and in my own life. I have to start with myself and who I really want to be. Once I become that, maybe I can succeed in changing some part of this world for the better.

Have a good day.


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