Thursday, December 8, 2016

Changing Oneself

One of the most quoted sayings in the world of activists is, Be the change you wish to see in the world. It's a great quote by Mahatma Gandhi. How many of us come to full comprehension of his meaning? He's not saying to go out and change the world. He's saying to be a living, breathing example of the change you wish to see. In the world of activists, that often is interpreted as making a way to change the world around us.

Tolstoy gets even more basic than that. Perhaps the world itself does need changing. Generally speaking, that's an understatement and certainly a given. Many situations in the world around us could use an uplift. Many people could use some assistance. Mother Earth herself requires care. What Tolstoy says is that even though changing the world around us may be important, changing ourselves is even more vital.

I find myself looking at people and situations with a critical eye. My mind flies to comparisons, many of which are often not positive. Next, I step into judgment. I look at the person and find strengths and traits lacking. I ponder the situation and note the down sides of them. This is not intentional. I truly want to support the betterment of the person or situation. My mistake lies in not consulting the person about their opinion or desire. Or in not requesting all the details of a situation. Tolstoy's statement challenges me, confronts us. He seems to suggest that we look at how we are and what effect we have on a situation in order to change ourselves before we seek to change the other. It's a concept I face and work with on a daily basis. Hopefully, I will focus more on the changes I need to make in myself and less on judging the changes need by the other.

How do you feel when you hear someone say, Be the change you want to see in the world? What change would you like to see happen? Is there a way you can be that change? or a reflection of it? How often do you find yourself either giving advice to others or biting your tongue so you don't? What topics show up most often when that happens? With whom does that most often happen? What small change could you make in yourself to ease the stress?

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