Can We Ever Really Change the World?

by Arleen Lorrance


When I was young I was idealistic. When I was 21 I was inspired by President Kennedy’s inaugural address. When I was 30 I thought love was all that was needed to heal everything.

At 63, I am an optimist who is realistic. I am inspired by human potential. And, I know that love without consciousness and unfailing commitment is sweet but not life changing.

Can we change the world? No. Actually, there is no world to change. There is only each of us as individuals. What we have been given to change, to grow, to evolve, is ourselves.

Today I stopped despairing over the Middle East. People there are caught in the web of killing for causes, dying for dreams, struggling with politics, looking to others to grant them safety, wanting others to give them self-determination (an oxymoron), and hating each other as if that will someday allow them to live as neighbors. The fingers of blame have grown arthritic, compassion has been crushed by endless rounds of retaliation, and no one on either side will ask what they can give to those they label their enemies.

The Middle East is a hopeless snarl of the worst of human experience. It is a prime mirror for everyone in the world to look in to see how ugly we become when we pit ourselves against other parts of our very self, and how futile our life becomes.

I read the story of a Palestinian college graduate who was readying herself to become a homicide bomber. She saw no hope for herself or her people. She said that with the Jews she had no future. Of course, with the Arab world she has no future either, since the Arab nations have never done anything for the Palestinians except use them as pawns for their own political advantage.

The 30-year old woman saw becoming a martyr as the most important thing she could do with her life. And she would also earn $25,000 for her family. This 30-year-old college graduate has become woven into the fabric of futility that clothes the whole of her people. Do the Palestinian refugees suffer? Indeed, yes. Can they individualize and become more than their group plight? Indeed, yes. Is it difficult, if not impossible? Yes. But it is the very stuff of which evolution is made. And it is the very stuff by which the so-called world changes. Each of us needs to look up from our circumstances and go for the more, create the more, become the more.

The Israelis suffer death on a daily basis in the streets and market places. They don’t know how to stop the violence that is directed at them. The nation retaliates with tanks and bulldozers, with bullets and with intransigence. They want peace the way they want it. In the midst of the worst of times, Sharon’s hard-line Likud party voted to reject any future Palestinian state. While the vote was clearly an internal political move, it was, ironically, a call for more violence and death to come their way from a frustrated Palestinian people.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Israelis demonstrated in the streets of Tel Aviv for peace and for a Palestinian State. In addition, many in the military are refusing to fight, refusing to go on with useless and interminable cycles of bloodletting. Can these protestors change their leaders minds? Yes. Will it happen soon enough? Probably not. Can they step up and out and create an entirely new reality, reaching to individual Palestinians to form an alliance of neighborly love? Yes. In fact, many are doing just that on both sides. Will permanent change come in the region? Probably not. But what will come is change in the individual people who live there, one by one by one.

When individuals refuse to kill, refuse to die, refuse to be the martyrs on either side, they will embody a change in the human race. They will lift the level of human relating to new heights. They will offer all those who struggle with hate and with the separations born of superiority, a new vision of how to be. Many will climb up out of the graves of old and useless militaristic thinking, and choose instead to live and to invest themselves in the painful processes of cooperation. But millions of others will continue to carry clubs, fly their flags, claim “God” as their own, and see themselves as the righteous who must dominate. It is the way of human beings.

Until we all lift to a next level of functioning, what we call the world will never change; only the players in the squirrel cage will change and the patterns will repeat with more sophisticated vengeance.

Everyday, around the globe individuals are working in conciliatory and peace-focused groups to bring human beings together. We rarely read about them in the press or hear about them in the media. The media is too focused on turmoil, violence, and terror, on massive scales. Through the media we get a distorted picture of humanity. We even get a distorted picture of history because it is written from the point of view of governments, policies and the impact of those policies. We rarely learn about the contributions and the imprint on the human psyche of powerful individuals. We learn what we are told and we act on that limited knowledge.

Can we change the world? No. How can we change ourselves? Simply, actually. I can choose fine frequency values and live them fully. I can make commitments to love, to give, to be open, to care, to be just, to call on my intuition, to feel, and to stand for justice for everyone. When the opportunity arises to be sucked into taking sides or offering opinions, I can respond instead with equal compassion for all involved and seek to see and to learn, rather than to preach or to dictate.

I can look for the potential in every one and praise that.

I can call upon any who appear to be an enemy to see if they might sit at the same side of the table with me and look at the problem we both face as if it were a third party. Together, we can look at how to change what distresses us both. If the “enemy” won’t sit with me, I can breathe and look again and again at how I can be the change I want to see happen, if not in that situation, then in others. I can invest all my energy in that, for then I will change. As I change and others commit to change, a collective “we” will change, and WE are the world.


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