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How to change the world - and not die in the attempt

Posted by Simon Parke, 04 May 2021, 3.05pm

If you desire to change the world, I have a suggestion:

Don’t desire to change the world. It never ends well.

It’s a natural enough wish; it’s almost in the DNA of some of us.

We get up in the morning and there it is: our need to change the world. It’s our driver in the activities we choose and the energies we expend.

We can’t remember when this drive wasn’t there. And how can something so right be wrong?

Well, we could ponder that now.

Because I sense a better pathway is this: live your truth, speak your truth – and let go of outcomes.

Genuinely let go.

One reason for doing this is, however hard you try, it’s quite possible you’ll not change very much, which can be irritating.

The Buddha, Jesus and Socrates all died lonely deaths. If their desire was to change the world, they’d have died unfulfilled and unhappy. And maybe a bit resentful.

This was exactly why Jesus told the parable of the four soils: to ensure we didn’t identify too strongly as the great world-changers.

(It is sometimes called ‘The parable of the sower’, even though it’s not really about him.)

In the parable, the sower throws seed on various sorts of soil – with varying results. While some seed takes root and grows, the majority of his work comes to nothing due to where the seed lands.

It’s not a judgement on the sower; it’s just Jesus telling us how things are, the conditions we live in.

Good intentions, fine words, just deeds and hard work do not always bring results. Sometimes they do; but more often they don’t.

Justice is rarely done.

Kindness often repelled.

Goodness generally denied.

So if our sense of self worth, our sense of existence, is tied up with these things, with ‘change achieved’, we could be in trouble.

We could also become part of the problem.

Some people want to change the world because it’s easier than changing themselves. This is often found in the ‘caring’ professions.

And notice the consequences on our own mental health if we identify too strongly with our cause: if things don’t go the way we want, we start getting angry or bitter or self-righteous or depressed or self-punishing – ‘I could have done more!’ - or cynical.

As much as we can, we take ourselves and our saviour-complex out of the equation, out of the narrative.

This really isn’t about us.

Instead, we live our truth and speak our truth whenever seems right. We honour our voice – and then let go of the outcomes, as the sower had to.

What grows, grows. And what doesn’t grow is not down to us.

So, go free today. Ease the world from your shoulders. It doesn’t sit well there. And who knows?

Without noticing, you might even change the world.


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