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
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
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
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
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.