Wednesday, May 21, 2008

More lessons in life

I stand corrected.
I was wrong.
Well, I was looking at it all wrong anyway...
I so desire to look at things through Christ's eyes- and instead, often times I find myself being so cynical, so depleted, that I get angry. I get tired. I want change- and once again, I forget that it has to start with ME. My attitude. My growth. My heart. My being willing to love- no matter how hard that is at times.

Today I read this: (Thank you Barbara for this lesson I needed to hear)

How do I get the world to care?

Sometimes, I think of how others have done it.
Mr. King did it by inspiring people with words, and empowering them to act.
Mother Theresa did it by serving the neediest people around her with love.
Mahatma Ghandi did it by giving people the tools needed for non-violent resistance.
The Dalai Lama does it by speaking the truth in all his gentleness.
Mister Rogers did it by talking and listening and encouraging and validating.
My mom did it by telling us it is okay to be different and showing us that each person matters by telling stories of the kids in her classroom and how she met their individual needs.
My friend Mike does it by living his life as an example of sustainability, being involved in building his community to be greener and doing research on organic farming.
My friend Maggie does it by teaching one family at a time how to help their autistic child.
My sister-in-law does it by asking doctors to justify the treatment they are prescribing.
My niece does it by inviting friends and family to join in on a project to celebrate her birthday.
My brother does it by creating paintings he posts on his website with a link to information about what inspired the painting.
Sinead O'Connor does it by writing heartfelt songs and putting them out there in the world.
Jesus did it by accepting people just as they are, in whatever place they happen to be, and inviting them to be free.

I think people don't need to be coerced into caring. I believe human beings are born caring, are inherently caring. I believe that when people act (or appear to act) as if they don't care about others' suffering, it is generally because they themselves are suffering. There are huge amounts of human suffering that cannot be seen by neighbors and friends and coworkers and even family members.

Not caring is a learned strategy for coping with powerlessness.

In order for people to act to alleviate the suffering of others, they need to feel as if their actions actually would make a difference. They need to feel empowered to help. Most people in our culture have learned to discount their own power in order to survive. If a person does not feel that she matters on this planet, it is pretty hard to believe that anyone matters.

I honor you for wanting to make positive change in the world. I honor you for seeing what could be done if everyone were aware the way you are. I honor you for knowing you have the power to aid those in need. I ask you to consider what assumptions you are making about people when you label them as not caring. I wonder if there is any way for you to love them just they way they are, and accept them in whatever place they are. As if they mattered just as much on this earth as the widows and orphans. I know, compared to lots of people in the world, your neighbors and friends have it made. They have it made. But, do they know they have it made? Do they feel as if they matter in this world? I think most people are struggling, even those who are apparently "rich." Struggling to find meaning and happiness.

You can't get them to care. You can only care about them.

But why should you, when there are all these widows and orphans who need care?

Because they matter. Each and every one of them. When I think of all those people I most admire for being able to inspire people to act in the interest of those in need, I see one pattern: they are fully present with the person right in front of them, loving them in whatever way this one person needs to be loved.

Mister Rogers says look for the helpers. So when I am feeling hopeless about my power, or about the possibility that others will use their power for good, I spend a little time reading his words. And looking for stories about people doing the helping work. I Do One Thing. I find One Thing to do that will help raise awareness about how easy it is to effect positive change.

Have a wonderful day,
Barbara Walker

"We the people, we're the powers that be." -Jeb Puryear

“Once our personal connection to what is wrong becomes clear, then we have to choose: we can go on as before, recognizing our dishonesty and living with it the best we can, or we can begin the effort to change the way we think and live.” -Wendell Berry

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