We all have heard it said —
“Change your mind, change your world” — Richard Gillett
“Change the world” — Everyone
“Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes” — David Bowie
Truth be told, they are all great sayings — we know that. Repeating these catchphrases have become the constant bad habit we try to break. Even so, they are our instant go-to when we have no idea how to respond to an existential-related question. These sayings roll off the tongue like silk. They’re familiar, second nature, and quite possibly the most generic yet “right” thing to say when people ask us: what do you want to do with your life?
Every time we use them, we get ourselves hyped — psyching ourselves into believing that changing the world is possible.
For a brief moment we believe in these sayings and become addicted to the instant gratification of saying…
Finally. I’ve got my life together. FINALLY:
I’m on the right track, baby. I was born this way -Lady Gaga
That should be the happy ending that we all have been dreaming of.
But what happens after our hero syndrome high plateaus?
Back to Life. Back to Reality. — Soul II Soul
Over time though, we become jaded. After every attempt of “changing” the world, it just seems to backfire on us. More often than not, the stagnant feeling of things not changing greets us again.
We love the feeling of making waves and shaking the world up. We’re addicted to being a rebel with a cause. We relish all the feels until in a moment’s notice, the spark is gone.
The problem with newbie world changers, like myself, comes down to:
Being a Convincer instead of a DOer
My natural habitat is living in my own mind. Logically, I know that things don’t happen unless I DO it and that my thinking about thinking of doing things isn’t going to magically make it a reality. I convince my own mind on what I should be doing rather than just going for it and actually taking action.
What ends up happening is instead of doing and living up to my own standards, I also repeat the same pep talk I had in my mind — with others.
Now trying to convince others to change for the better is a nice sentiment, but at the same time:
Telling others to better themselves is insulting.
It degrades the human spirit to make the insinuation that your life is better than theirs. Of course, many of us already understand that. It’s obvious, but we fall victim to repeating the mantra of “let’s change the world”.
After all, we’ve seen, read, or at least have heard of it being done. We’ve got Abraham Lincoln and César Chávez. We have awe-inspiring legends who did seem to turn the world upside down for a while. We think of all the greats in history that have been driving agents of change, and that gives us some amp juice to meddle with changing the world.
Martin Luther King, Jr. did it, didn’t he?
MLK did it. So can I.
Every year in my junior high classroom, I’ve incorporated a lesson that covers Martin Luther King, Jr.’s quest to change and bring about equality in the world.
I have to admit. I get teary-eyed (I’ve gotten better about it) when I rewatch the speech. My heart beats with a passion like never before. I get excited to share this lesson with my students. Most of my students are 100% engaged. I can see it in their eyes as they watch the speech, hanging on every word of Dr. King as if he really were there with us in the same room. However, as I scan the room, there are still a couple students whose eyes wander or with mouths — I can just tell with a teacher eye — are itching to start whispering with a classmate.
Now just as a preface — I’m a newbie world changer, just as I am a newbie teacher approaching my third year. At the end of the video, I try to hide the flustered state of the one or two kids I didn’t reach.
What did I do wrong? My head is reeling because in the sea of mediocre lessons I’ve created or have used, my hope was that this would be a hit.
But success isn’t about being a one-hit wonder. From the teachers I’ve known and looked up to, I know that these “hits” and “changes” must happen every single day.
Shortly after the lesson, I did ask my disengaged students on why the lesson sunk for them.
It gets old, Miss. I’ve heard it all before.
The emotional side of me tries to contain my outrage. Martin Luther King, Jr. ? Old news? I’m appalled at such an answer, but then I come back to my senses.
My students were not critiquing Martin Luther King, Jr. himself. They knew he was an influential world changer to be admired.
They were being real with me.
And here’s the killer part: Just like my engaged students, my heart always screams yes! I’m ready to change the world after every memorable speech such as of Dr. King. After a while though, I am back to my normal self again. No change. Nada.
But, there’s still hope.
Martin Luther King, Jr. knew what was up
We’re inspired for a moment. Our desire to change the world is fervent in a single instant, but out of sight the next. This is the mindset of 99% percent of the population — including myself.
Dr. King as we all know by his actions, was not part of the majority of the population.
It was not until later that I realized how wrong I was about Martin Luther King, Jr.’s intention in writing his “I Have a Dream” speech.
It was pure genius. Martin Luther King, Jr. lyrically told a story not simply of the Civil War that plagued our own country — the USA — but the spiritual warfare that imprisons our minds.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was partly talking of a war of flesh and of degrading, inhumane brutality. But he was interceding in behalf of a more deep-rooted problem.
He was calling on God’s people not limited to just secular divisions:
This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring. — Martin Luther King, Jr.
Dr. King was ahead of the game. He chose his audience and he knew God’s people weren’t limited to any nation, color, or creed. He knew that if people were moved by his speech, it meant something more.
Being “moved” had to come from within.
You probably won’t have a lot of friends- that’s okay.
The truth is, you probably aren’t going to make a lot of friends — nor be friends of the world if you stay true to what you believe — whatever it may be. The assassination of world changers such as Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, Jr. proves this point.
Our human minds instinctively judge those who do not conform to our beliefs. We even judge those who do.
A naturally cynical, skeptical world won’t be changed by mere ideals. Trying to, is just going to cause more tension and division.
– You’re religious and you read an article from an Atheist: You’re already going to have a preconceived notion that this person is going to be writing from an “unGodly” viewpoint.
– You’re an Atheist and attempt to read an article from a non-secular group. Your rational mind will already know to take the word of a zealot with a grain of salt if there is any inkling of religious undertones or allusive remarks.
– Or maybe you fall into an outside category. You’re divergent. Congratulations! 🙂
What is an aspiring world changer to do?
So how do we change this mindset of a seemingly endless cycle of prejudice?
We learn as much about a topic from an objective point of view — preferably — by engaging in conversations with one another instead of searching up Wikipedia. We learn to learn. We learn to grow.
2. Humility(keeping an open mind)
I’ve felt the push-and-pull effect when someone tries to change my mind about something or tells me I’m wrong. I know logically (or illogically?) I’m supposed to be an open-minded human being. Yet I still check out sometimes. I let pride get in the way of being humble instead. Being wrong sucks. But when we admit it, and are willing to have open discussions (without hidden agendas), that’s an opportunity for an agent of change to come into our lives.
Love is the greatest commandment of all. Love is what binds people of all races, nation, and creed together. With love, there is no prejudice. Instantly, our walls break down.
Change happens here.
I could be wrong…
I could be wrong. I’m still young and don’t know all the answers. I’m sure that in the coming years my thoughts will change when I grow in knowledge about the world and how it works.
But as time goes on, I realize that I cannot “preach” my beliefs to change the world. I want to, but it won’t change the world.
At the same time, though, I can’t hide my faith either.
It’s fake if I hide behind neutral lines to disguise my beliefs.
To deny this, I become a fraud.
If I attempt to write an article and conceal who I am and what I believe, I lose respect from my brethren of the faith, and even more from those who are irreligious. Not to say that I should care … but that would be a lie.
I want people to love me for who I am. We think that hiding behind a mask and pleasing everyone will change it and make someone love us more. It doesn’t.
Everyone wants a REAL person. Yet we all struggle with being real.
I always have the fear that I won’t be able to change others or inspire my students if I don’t stay impartial and positive. But in the process, I fail because of it.
Because it’s inauthentic.
I only end up creating more divisions and shutting out others from even considering my beliefs and point of views.
How do you change the world then???
Some of us have already discovered this truth a long time ago.
But to answer the question:
We change ourselves.
I’ve only recently arrived to this epiphany. I lived my life with just wanting to be comfortable in my world, but not to change it.
The reality is that we CAN change ourselves, but we CAN’T change others. That’s physically and mentally impossible. The world — the individual — can only do that for themselves.
I know. Ouch. You really wanted to be the “one” who did it. Who got people back on the right track. But you didn’t. That was pride talking. All that change- that was all them.
You had role models and guides to help you along the way. People to pick you up to get you back on your feet. But the change that rocks your world—
That’s all you.
It exists inside you.
The only constant you have to rely on is yourself. The constant being the changes — growth — you put yourself through.
Martin Luther King, Jr. stayed true to himself to change his own world. He gained a lot of enemies along the way. But he also gained many friends.
However, he didn’t change the world. People whom he called his friends: they changed their mindsets on their own accord. Dr. King was simply a driving force that had moved others to work together in harmony towards a common goal. People were inspired. The ideals hit the heart. They were motivated by the words of an amazing leader who believed in himself and soon enough, they started to believe in themselves as well.
All this time I was doing it wrong: thinking I could change the world.
Yet how glad it hit me. The realization:
I wasn’t sent into this world to change it.
To believe in that would be egotistical of me. Selfish.
All the world will do is take notice and experience fleeting inspiration. But it’s not sustainable.
So if you want to change the world? Don’t.
Just do you. Change yourself. If the world notices: Awesome. If it doesn’t… at least you’re being the change that you yourself want to see in your world. The rest of the world will figure itself out.
In the spirit of one of my heroes and inspiration…no longer will we be a slave to our own minds. And when this happens:
…when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!” -Dr. King
I can’t change the world. I’ve been freed from this lie and have come to this truth.
So let the ch-ch-ch-ch-changes change me.