June 20th, 2008 4:01 PM by Lehel Szucs
Are We Really Trying? Excerpt from The Gift of Change:
By Marianne Williamson
Everyone I know wants the world to change. All of us want to be part of the solution. We find the thought of the complete revolution of human values a very attractive idea. Everyone's all ready to sign up. Let's go!
But wait. You start to hear a few little complaints. "Can we do this when 'The West Wing' isn't on?" "Could I sign up for a slot between two and four on Saturday, when the kids are at soccer?" "Couldn't we meet in a nicer place?" We're the only generation in the history of the world that wants to reinvent society over white wine and brie.
Only in America would someone expect changing the world to be convenient! Hello. Reality check: The suffragettes had no cell phones. The abolitionists had no faxes.
They did have love in their hearts, however. And so do you and I.
I asked a friend what I should speak about at a talk I was to give in his bookshop, and he said, "Speak about the challenges of living a spiritual life today -- I mean, we all try so hard!" And I thought to myself, "No, we don't!"
For whatever reason, however, we keep telling ourselves we do. We're all revisionists these days, and we're not content to just revise our past -- we even revise the present. We seem to have a magical belief that if we describe ourselves a certain way, then it must be true.
We talk about how hard it is to live a spiritual life when we're not even meditating regularly or making the deepest effort to forgive those who have hurt us. Perhaps we have spent so many years in the classroom that "student mode" has become a habit.
It's time to graduate. Enough of us know spiritual principles now; we've read the same books and listened to the same tapes. It's time to become the principles now, to embody them and demonstrate them in our daily lives. Until we do, we will not really learn them at the deepest level. They will not inform our souls or transform the world.
And if that's the case, we will go down in history as the generation that knew what we needed to know yet didn't do what we needed to do. I can't imagine how it would feel, to die with that realization.
We've subscribed to a kind of ivory tower notion of spiritual education: keep it abstract and intellectual and safe. Yet the spoils of history usually go to those willing to get dirt underneath their fingernails.
I heard a woman talking recently about her frustration with politics: "We've tried so hard, and nothing ever seems to change!" I thought she must be joking.
"Uh, no, we haven't. How many of us even vote?" I asked her. "And if we do, what does that mean -- we go to the voting booth every two or four years? Where do we get off thinking that we've tried so hard?" Are we thinking we made some supreme and noble effort to change the world, and it didn't work?! We've been so trained by thirty-minute sitcoms that if we don't get what we want in half an hour, it's like, uh-oh, we tried but failed. Too bad. It's over. Next.
Mother Teresa made a supreme and noble effort. Martin Luther King, Jr. made a supreme and noble effort. Susan B. Anthony made a supreme and noble effort. We have not made a supreme and noble effort. In fact, most of us make very little effort to change the world. But then we feel frustrated when we see that it's not changing!
Usually, when people say, "We've tried so hard!" they're not really talking about themselves. It's more like, "Well, there are other people I know who have!" It's laughable when you think about it. Perhaps we don't realize the big secret in our midst -- which isn't how little power we have to change things, but rather how much power we have that we aren't using! We're like birds who were never informed, or have forgotten, we have wings.
But a great remembering is reverberating among us, and whatever we've done or haven't done, succeeded at or failed at; whatever time we've used well or time we've wasted; we are here, we are available, we are present to the moment and up to the challenge.
All we need remember is this: if God has given us a job to do, He will provide for us the means by which to accomplish it. All we have to do is ask Him what He wants us to do and then be willing to do it.