Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.
– Thomas A Kempis, German ecclesiastic (1380-1471)
Let him that would move the world first move himself.
– Socrates, Ancient Athenian philosopher (470-399 BC)
Many people claim they wish they could change the world, but they can’t. Yet they would find it difficult to change themselves, even offensive if someone else suggested it.
Changing the world isn’t hard. It simply can’t be done by one person. Because they know they can’t do it alone, many fail to make any attempt. Rather than working to gather others who will spread the same message, they do nothing, often ignoring the advice they would give to the world as to how to achieve new objectives and goals.
“If you can’t beat them, join them.” As common as that saying is, it identifies its users as guilty of something, and as quitters, if not as losers.
Starting with the ancient Jew we know as Abraham, the Semites began to spread the word among the other tribes they met about how to live a good life. Jesus of Nazareth picked up the theme about 550 years later. The Muslim Prophet Mohammed continued the theme with his own religion. In about 2500 years, around half the world believes the same precepts about living a good life.
Mind you, not every one of those people adheres to the rules. Generally speaking, the Jews are fairly peaceful people, except as they must defend themselves against those who would annihilate them in the Middle East. A large majority of Christians and Muslims are peaceful people, I believe. In fact, most of the people who belong to non-Abrahamic religions have similar beliefs about how to live a good life.
Considering how incredibly brutal the world was up until 600 years ago (and how brutal it still is in pockets around the world), we have come a long way. We probably have six times as many people on earth today as 600 years ago, which means that even more than in the past we humans have changed to a more peaceful and helpful life style.
We have no trouble hearing about those who violate our norms. The media ensure that we hear as much that’s bad among us as they can get their hands on, and they make up some of what they tell us as it is. But the vast majority of people on the planet live good lives, healthier and longer than ever before in history.
Abraham, Jesus and Mohammed spread their words, others paid attention and passed them on. The same can be said of The Buddha and the originators of Hinduism, Taoism and other religions.
These people believed that their words would eventually spread around the world. They were right. They didn’t give up because it couldn’t happen within their lifetimes.
What does that make us, the good people of today who don’t believe we can make a difference? Short-sighted, at the least.
Changing our own attitudes about what effect we could have on the future of our world could make such a difference in decades, centuries and millennia to come.
It’s not so hard to tell others about the values we hold, so long as we don’t try to convert them to a particular religion or ask them for donations. They will listen and, in time, they too will spread the word.
You can make a difference, if you believe in yourself.
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents and teachers who want to make a big difference in the world of the future by teaching children what they need to know to operate it with integrity and with honour.
Learn more at http://billallin.com