“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
I recently read articles from two leading political writers on opposite sides of the spectrum. These gentlemen can often be found on talk shows or on the editorial pages of some of today’s leading newspapers and magazines, which is to say that I am told they are smart and worthy of my attention. Well they won’t get it.
One of them: “The experience of mass movements…seems to suggest individuals can do little to affect the course of events. When we do indulge our hopes and take seriously our wishes, they’re often frustrated by reality.”
And the other, “There are essentially two ways to maintain order and get things done in [our] society — politics or some form of dictatorship.”
To these two writers I channel my inner Whitman and “sound my barbaric yawp!” I offer the pessimists an alternative: real change can occur if we love one another.
In business it is often said “don’t try to boil the ocean.” It is simply too insurmountable a task to unilaterally alter the course of world events. Besides, to my knowledge only one person has ever accomplished that and you are not Him.
When I was a young, eager banker I was given a copy of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. Life changing for me it was not, but I do recall one principle from that book that stuck: know your sphere of influence and live inside of it. It is a complete and utter waste of my time to concern myself with things outside of my control.
Concerning myself with labor utilization in Siberia does me no good because what in the world can I do about it anyway? Instead I should focus my limited time and energy on matters where I can make a difference.
Instead of turning up the heat in the Pacific, I could dedicate my limited time and resources to things that may truly make a difference. Instead of being a clanging cymbal (Cor 13:1) I might be a spark that starts a fire. Instead of changing the world I may start by improving my neighborhood.
On a walk this week I picked up a discarded can near my street and threw it away. Did I impact global climate change? No. Did I stand on the corner and rail against global polluters and Big Aluminum? Of course not. Did I even tell anyone about my deed? Not until now (and let’s commit to keep this between the few hundred thousand of us international friends, OK?).
Want to end global poverty? You can grow food for every starving mouth in Asia, or volunteer at Larimer County Food Bank. They feed hundreds of children right here in our community, every day. Do you care about abortion? You can try to overturn Roe vs. Wade, or you can learn more about Lutheran Family Services or any of the myriad crisis pregnancy centers serving women who need your help. Do you wish people were less crude and more generous? Then model that behavior at work, at home and in public.
I take second place to nobody when it comes to complaining about all of that out there. I would be better served spending my efforts on all of this right here.
I’m sure I am not telling you something you don’t already know. So then why don’t we do it? Patience. Aquinas identified patience as a necessary virtue for earthly happiness (felicitas). If you want to be truly happy, according to Aquinas, who is smarter than you, you must possess patience. This is the main reason that happiness eludes me.
So let’s try this:
- Be patient.
- Be a model for patience to others.
- That will certainly lead to loving one another, which will make it much easier to…
- Love One Another