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Improving the World

posted Jan 23, 2010, 10:15 PM by Darwin Stephenson
André Larsson asks "What we (human kind) can do to improve the world in a more effective way and unite us?"

André, this is a tough question that we all struggle with throughout our lives. At the time of this posting, countless people are suffering in Haiti and the death toll is estimated to exceed 100,000. As we go through our daily lives, this tragic event is a stark reminder of the pain and suffering that take place on a daily basis around the world.

We wonder what we can do to make the world a better place when we seem so small, so far away and unable to see how we can influence lasting change. Our lives are filled with struggles of our own and there hardly seems enough time in the day to keep our own head above water, let alone enough to bring about world peace.

This question we face is not difficult because there is a lack of answers. There are thousands of strategies that have been employed throughout history and stories of our greatest leaders provide glimpses into the influence one soul can have on the world. Political leaders, religious voices and even prisoners have made a marked change on humanity.

But despite these accomplishments, we look at the world and find ourselves disappointed that more has not been accomplished. Anger, fear and hate pervade our society in ways that we hoped would've been extinguished by now. Jealousy, rage and discrimination have survived like an unbeatable virus. Persecution, abuse and judgment seem to be alive and well in both the world's community and our local neighborhoods.

And so your question is a good one. What are we to do? How do we make the world a better place and unite humanity?

Nations and groups have tried to show people a better way.
Religious leaders have preached of the divine life.
Individuals have given their time and their lives to fight for peace.

And yet, despite great gains, the struggle survives. But so too does our desire and hope to persevere. We know that a better way is available to the human race and we can almost taste how attainable this harmonious life is for us all. The beauty of a world infused with peace, love and joy is on the tip of our tongue. But just like a memory that just can't be recalled, we feel it but struggle to make it a reality. We just don't understand how we can make a difference.

The world we live in reinforces an approach to change that can only come about through momentous force, incredible shifts and miraculous accomplishments. Great men and women are heralded for their incredible achievements and the changes they introduced to us all. But while these stories inspire us, so too they reinforce the concept that change comes through herculean efforts.

But we're late for work and the kids have to be at soccer practice at 3:15. And so we conclude that the change that the world needs will have to come from someone else because we're too busy, not capable and not even sure where to begin.

Herein lies the key to the answer. The power of nuclear energy came about from understanding the fundamental properties of the electron. When we see the devastating damage caused by dropping a nuclear bomb or the size and complexity of a nuclear power plant, we forget that the properties of a single electron are what enable this unimaginable power. And while the effort to discover the secrets of the electron were nothing short of herculean, it was in the mind of a single physicist that the final answer emerged.

OK, so we're not physicists and we're not trying to scientifically solve the world's problems. But what this analogy brings up for us is that change happens on very small levels. It spreads like a virus through our networks and reaches into the lives of people that we don't even know.

For example, my last post on Staying Present in Crisis was forwarded to a writer in Iran who is translating it into Persian to be published in an Iranian Yoga Journal. From there someone will read that article and apply the principles in their life. Unknown to that person, they will handle a personal crisis with love and inspire someone who witnesses how they handled the situation. And that person... One thought continues to circle the world.

But this is only one known example of this chain of events. Starting with Mr. Clark posting his question, this one packet of information is circulating in ways that I not only cannot imagine but also I will probably never be made aware.

And so that is the problem that is keeping change from happening on a global scale. Without an awareness of the impact of our actions, we incorrectly conclude that they didn't make a difference in the world. So we stop trying.

But we're perpetuating a lie when we judge our actions in this way. Instead we should be steadfast in our efforts to make the world a better place. But not in herculean efforts to make marked change, but rather in small, meaningful ways in our own lives.

We can do this on a daily basis by asking ourselves these three questions when we ponder what choice to make in life. Whenever you're wondering what you should do or are about to do something, ask yourself:

Of the choices before me, which one:

A. Chooses love
B. Unites humanity
C. Expands God's presence

The opposite of this would be a choice that isn't loving, divides humanity and constrains God's presence.

We begin this change in our own homes. We should first bring peace and healing into our family. The global change we seek can only come from within. Just like the tiny electron, great power can come about through these little, tiny changes.