What if today we decided to act not upon our fears, our hatred or our ignorance but instead acted in love, faith, and an earnest desire to know the truth? What if we were to stop hiding and face the world as it is, knowing that however dark the situation might be, we can still bring to it our own light for others to see, however humble it might be?
What if, when we fall short of these goals, we permit ourselves to forgive ourselves? And when we fail, what if we were to get back on our feet, brush ourselves off, and begin again, a little wiser from our failures? In that way we would also be able to forgive others who have disappointed us, knowing that to err is human. We would then not need to believe that every time someone acted in a way that disappointed us we need take it as a personal affront. They are human, we are human. We are imperfect but capable of much good despite our imperfections. In short, we could believe in others and ourselves more than we have ever allowed ourselves to believe before.
What if we continued to focus upon a great and glorious future for mankind, knowing there is no other path that does not lead to darkness? I know, we’ve been down that path so many times and so many times we’ve been disillusioned. But that’s what life is all about, isn’t it? The path towards victory is littered with so many defeats both big and small. But it would be cynical and lazy for us to say it is hopeless to try. It is disingenuous to say we have not had our successes in making the world a better place. Perhaps we are not where we intended to be but that doesn’t mean we are not on the path. We have no way of knowing how much further we have to go but we are pretty aware of what the cost of failure will be. But knowing the dangers and the costs of failure, we need not dwell on them. If we are to succeed, we must set aside our concerns of such things and concentrate on moving forward.
The start of any accomplishment begins with a commitment. The start to a better world requires that we make a choice, and then pursue it without wavering at every small setback. The climb is rough, no doubt. But the view from the summit will be beyond any imagining.
To turn away from the fight is to turn away from the sacrifices of those who came before us. We stand on the shoulders of giants, we have in our reach the dream Martin Luther King Jr. knew he would not see but worked so valiantly and faithfully towards. So many have given their lives so that we could be where we are now, people who had a bright shining dream of what humanity is capable of, what we can be, will be someday, because we appreciated their efforts, their vision, their love of life.
But we must see such greatness within ourselves as well. We must see that we are all made of the same stuff as our heroes. They possessed nothing that we ourselves do not have, which made their accomplishments all the more remarkable. They were not idols to be worshipped but role models to be emulated. We all have a role to play, we all must do our part. Also, we must accept that others will do their part. Perhaps they need us to be their role models. Perhaps we can influence them. We must not wait around until we are certain everyone is doing their part, we must trust, we must believe. For only in trusting and believing will we ever have the strength to do our part.
This is not some adolescent fantasy I am putting forth, but in fact the very blossoming of our most mature human attributes. We’ve already tried the simplistic desire for a better world. The 1960’s was a time when we tested our immature beliefs in a better world. It has failed, it will always fail. That’s because we need to approach humanity’s future with all of the attention and commitment that we use when approaching personal goals. We must look out for each other the way we look out for family because in a very real way we are family to each other. Every day we have the opportunity to play the role of father, mother, sister or brother to those we meet.
Perhaps it is the very brightness of the possibility that causes some to turn their head away. Sometimes we are afraid to dream because we are afraid of failing. The cost of failure is so very great. The reward for success, too, is immense. We fear to begin, fear the task that is placed upon each of us as individuals. We are mere children, being pushed to stand on our own two feet. We often become frightened and wish to regress, wish to allow our parents to take care of us. But we have no parents, have no institutions nor benevolent leaders to do the hard work for us. We must do it. Ourselves. Each must stand on his own two feet.
But not alone. Each of us has each other. Each of us has a world of caring, loving, adults willing to not merely take care of their own interests but also to take care of the greater society of which we are all a part. We will each of us stumble, but others will be there to help us up. We will each of us see others stumble, but we will not permit their weakness to be a reason for us to despair or desert the path. We will find the strength within ourselves to set the example for others, even as we will surely find so many reasons to find inspiration in the actions and behavior of others. Of this one thing I assure you: you will find others whose work, effort, faith and bravery will humble you, will make whatever efforts you have put into this life seem light. But it need not be a competition, rather it will be a process of learning and discovery. We learn from the good in everyone, appreciate and celebrate the good deeds and accomplishments of the humblest among us.
Is this not a worthwhile way to live one’s life? Is this not the kind of world view that would bring out the best in all of us? What more valuable things can we pursue in life than peace, love, and understanding? Yes, the idea comes from a somewhat naïve era, but it was a very idealistic one. It was an era that was unafraid to reach out and explore new ideas, break new ground. The ideas that were born of that era were born weak and vulnerable, but they were born. Since that time, they have been battered and abused, been subject to all the nastiness that the world has to offer. They have been tested but still they endure. Though born puny and helpless, they have survived and grown stronger despite what the world has attempted to hurl at them. They survive, and they survive because they are strong and they are true. Peace. Love. Understanding. Hope, too. Let us add that because perhaps there was not enough of that the first go round. And lastly, let us add faith. Faith is the critical piece. Faith is a choice and we must choose. Faith is the piece of the puzzle only adulthood can give. Faith is commitment. Faith is living one’s life in accord with one’s beliefs and principles. Faith is choosing the road that leads to where you want to go and abandoning lesser avenues.
I have faith, in myself, and in you. I have faith in us, in humanity. I have faith because it is the only serious, mature answer one can have to the serious problems that face us. Doubt will not save us, it will only lead us back to the same bad habits that have brought us to this dangerous point we are now at. Doubt born of fear makes us abandon the idea of unity, makes us fracture into warring tribes that destroy rather than create. Doubt leads us to create walls rather than bridges. It is a juvenile reaction to the very real problems that we must deal with as mature adults. It is time.