Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Changing the World Is Like AA

Changing the world is a lot like AA. First you have to acknowledge that you have a problem. Then you admit that you can't control the problem. And then you turn it over to a power greater than yourself.

So, do you have a problem with the world? Or are you comfortable with things as they are? Really. You have to decide just how uncomfortable the problem is for you. If you are willing to live with the status quo there is no reason for you to even consider changing it. Do you live in denial, telling yourself that it isn't a problem for you that other people are dying of starvation, preventable disease, or war.

Be honest with yourself. How much does it bother you? Does it bother you just enough that you distract yourself with other thoughts or rationalize that it isn't really YOUR problem?

The second part is easy to believe. No one can actually CONTROL the problem. It is already way out of control. But does that mean you should do nothing about it? Ask any AA member why they are in AA if they believe they can't control their addiction. Letting go of control of the problem doesn't mean you can't change YOURSELF - your beliefs, your behaviors, your choices.

And then turning it over to a power greater than yourself may sound too spiritual to you to take at face value. So let's look at that more closely. Obviously you, as an individual, cannot on your own change the world. So what might be a power greater than yourself? There is the power of joining with others, the power of hope, and the power of the universe.

There is synchronicity or serendipity that happens without you even knowing it. When one thing changes somewhere in the world the same thing almost magically occurs in other parts of the world. For instance, often someone will discover a new idea or invent a new machine or develop a new drug. And without anyone else knowing about it, the same thing is discovered or invented in someplace far away. It seems that the universe just waits for something new and then replicates it without people knowing it. This often occurs in science. I'm sure you've heard or read about such things.

 "Turning it over", therefore, doesn't mean you are now free to go back to acting the same way you've been acting, expecting magic to happen. It means letting go of your isolation, your unwillingness to ask for help, your resistance to change happening in your life.

So where does that leave you? Are you willing to do anything about the state of our world? If you are, it means starting inside yourself, your beliefs. Do you believe there can be a better world?

Hope must be part of your perspective. "Hope shows us a destination, but a vast territory, the territory of despair, lies between it and us" (1) This spark of hope, however, can be fanned into flame at the slightest turn of good news. So with this perspective, look for the good news, the ways things are changing for the better in yourself and in the world, no matter how small. And encourage hope your perspective and in others. It is vital to change.

We must believe in our hearts that the beautiful world we long for is possible. And we must make our choices every day from our heart, not because someone says we should or shouldn't act with compassion. We must actually make room in our hearts for compassion and nurture it. When it is growing there your choices will be more compassionate. You won't have to make yourself do compassionate acts, you will BE compassionate and your behavior will show that.

We are going to have to change a lot of our beliefs - beliefs about scarcity, about how we are related to all of creation, about what we really need, about happiness and what it really means, about money, about power, about so many things. We have to consider that nothing is as it seems and to look beyond what we first perceive.

It all comes down to us as individuals, to our inner being. I hope more and more people will take the journey to find themselves and to grow into truly compassionate people. Then things in our world will change and change rapidly. Won't you consider it?

(1) The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible , Charles Eisenstein.

Today's daily dozen to-do list choices:

  • Refrain from judging others or harassing them because they may be different or because of their actions. Search yourself or things you have in common rather than ways you are different.
  • Organize a flower-planting party in a nearby park, school, or faith organization. Consider the response others have to the beauty of nature and what a difference that can make for their day when they enjoy your handiwork.
  • Write a kind note to relatives and friends, letting them know why they are special.
  • Open the door for another person when out in public, no matter who that person is. Smile a greeting.
  • Consider needs others may have that you don't see being met and do something to change that. E.g. Approach bookstores owners and publishers about ordering and carrying more books in large print or on tape.
  • Talk to others about kindness, why it makes a difference and the fact that it really is easy to do.
  • Recycle all newspapers, plastics, aluminum, and paper, even if you have to go out of your way to do it. Be kind to the earth.
  • Create a "smile file" with cartoons and pictures that make othrs smile; pick out a cartoon to cheer up a friend in need.
  • Take a day and pay a compliment once every hour; practice telling people what you like about them.
  • Call an animal shelter and find out what donations they need. Collect treats, food, first aid supplies, toys, cat litter, towels, and soft blankets for the homeless animals. Most shelters will encourage you to come "visit" the animals to give them special individual attention. Go regularly and get your "animal love fix!"
  • Switch to pet-safe antifreeze. Antifreeze contains propylene glycol that carries a tempting but fatal taste to animals. Just one teaspoon can kill a cat and two ounces can kill a dog.
  • Reduce air pollution by planting trees and plants in your yard.

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