There are a lot of energetic, well-meaning people out there trying to save the world. I have been, and occasionally still am, one of the them. See, the thing is, we care. We have had experiences in our lives that make us very empathetic to others suffering. We want to do all we can to quell violence, to settle relations, to provide comfort to people, and compassion to their soul. But as I did before I changed, in our dedication to making the world better, we can sometimes leave a pretty ugly wake.
Everyone’s life’s already heavy. Too much work, too little money, not enough appreciation, and lots of demands. Everyone’s tired, and so taking their free time to have heavy discussions about biochemical corporations, animal cruelty, human rights abuses, politics, child abuse, or even improvements they could make to their own lives, are all largely unwanted. They might be polite about hearing it because they love you, but those individual protests don’t actually make the world better, they often make it worse.
Yes, there are times directed action needs to be taken and thank goodness these sort of people are there to lead change. Sometimes we can learn via social media about situations, companies or people to be wary of, or we can find a firm and meaningful action to take about an issue. But no one’s going to resolve Palestine and Israel, or the growing political divide, by posting angry retributions on facebook. Yes each generation needs to be educated, but there is no need for an incessant focus on what’s wrong. It’s exhausting for the people that love you to always live with your disappointment, anger, and frustration.
Have you heard the story found in the old church, apparently written by a monk. It goes:
When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world.
I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation.
When I found I couldn’t change the nation, I began to focus on my town.
I couldn’t change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family.
Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family.
My family and I could have made an impact on our town.
Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world.
Experiencing anger or a sense of injustice is like throwing a hot coal at someone. It is us who gets burned. And those around us. Despite your best intentions, the people living around you simply end up surrounded by that negativity. Since we have much more impact on the people we have direct contact with, we’re all better to focus on creating peace within ourselves before we go demanding it of others. Rather than telling people or companies or countries how to operate, we should simply model the behaviour we believe in instead. As Gandhi said, “be the change you want to see in the world.”
You’re not understanding Gandhi or the Buddha if you’re not understanding that Love accomplishes much more than recrimination and blame. Abandon helping people with corrective guidance and advice. Simply love them instead. Then, rather than detracting from each others life force, you end up combining your energies and both of you blossom.
People who feel loved are generous with their time and their money. Being happy, they have few needs of their own and they can instead focus their life energy on the ubiquitous human qualities of kindness and compassion. And unlike ineffectual, angry, repetitive ranting statements, kindness and compassion can actually change the world.
So rather than being burned by your own hot coals, instead simply communicate love in all your relations and you will be surprised at how much you accomplish.
Enjoy your day.
Following a serious childhood brain injury Scott McPherson unwittingly spent his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and the self. This made him as strange to others as they were to him. Seeing the self-harm people created with their own over-thinking, Scott dedicated part of his life to helping others live with greater awareness. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB, where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.