I know, the problems of the world seem so vast, so far reaching, never ending and unconquerable that they scare the hell out of you. But we don’t have to fail. Our leaders and our institutions are failing us, and everywhere people are shouting and angry with their fellow man when they are not actively killing one another. But we don’t have to fail.
How, you may ask, can we do other than fail? It seems we know of no approach except to blame others for the way things are. We are incapable of looking inward for the answers, are afraid to believe that inside us lies something of value we can give to the world. Afraid of the awesomeness of the task and the smallness of ourselves, we place our faith in powerful forces, ceding the role we need to play to governments, corporations, and technology. But we need not do so. We need not fail.
Our world can only ever be as free as each one of us is free. So long as we give our hearts, our minds and our labor to institutions that do not respond to our humanity, we contribute to the problem rather than the solution. We must be both servants and rebels, servants to humanity but rebels against demands from anyone who asks us to surrender what is best in us to systems and bureaucracies that are not functioning as they should.
We can only triumph if each and every one of us works towards the goal, each one of us dealing with the piece of the grand puzzle that is placed in front of us, that part of the puzzle only we know how to solve.
We will only succeed if we have faith that others are not so different from us, that each of us, deep down, has the capacity to work towards a better end than the one we are hurtling towards. We will succeed if we stop digging through the wreckage of our current situation for bones of contention and instead seek out what can still be salvaged. We need to let go of what separates us and focus instead on the vastly more important issue of what unites us. For God’s sake, stop pointing the finger of blame.
We succeed one individual at a time. We move towards success with every soul that commits to the betterment of mankind without waiting for a sign from God or proof that their fellow man is doing his part. We cannot wait for the change, we must be the change. It must start with us. Each and every soul that commits to the path is a step in the right direction, is a step away from the abyss that awaits us should we fail. We need not fail.
We succeed when we refuse to see one another as an enemy. We succeed when we refuse to see war as an option. We succeed when we take away the power of another to dictate our actions and take the power in our own hands. No other person can make you work against the common good. No person, even at the barrel of a gun, can make you do injury to your fellow man.
This is power. This is ultimate power, the power not only to define who you are as a person but the power to influence others by your example and thereby change the world. Powerlessness is merely the belief that others control your behavior, that you must do things you’d rather not as a way to respond to their actions.
You have the power. You must believe this. You are not helpless. The feeling of helplessness you feel is the will of others working within you. You cannot and never will gain power through this feeling of helplessness, it will only further ensnare you in the world that others wish for you to inhabit.
You are free. Whatever holds you down and limits you, you have the choice as to which road you travel. Knowledge is power and the truth shall set you free. You must never use the excuse that the institutions won’t let you do what you would like. They cannot rule without your consent. It is time now for you to exert the authority that is invested in you and in all of us.
The roads diverge quite sharply. One leads to division, discord and destruction. If you choose that road you will see every approaching stranger as an enemy. On that road you will find countless excuses for selfish behavior and the use of force. The other road is a commitment to optimism. Not foolish optimism, for you know the way is long and hard. It is a commitment to optimism whatever setbacks you may encounter. It is choosing a path and sticking with it when hard times come, not falling back on your crutches of negativity and conflict whenever you face obstacles.
The world is in danger. Civilization is in danger. It seems foolish to believe there is something you are capable of doing about it. It seems daunting, the sheer audacity of it makes you want to run away and let mommy and daddy or the government or the free market deal with it. But mommy and daddy can’t help you, the market doesn’t care about you, and the government is only what you have made it. If you have distanced yourself from the power structures that rule then they will not work in your best interests. It is you. It is you, believing in the commonality of humanity and our ability to find a way to peacefully coexist and make our way to a better future. Because if you believe in humanity, humanity will respond positively to your belief. You are not the only one working towards that goal. There are others, too many to count, who have shown the way. Their lives have been a testament to the nobility, courage and faith that can be found in human beings. They have made sacrifices far beyond what most of us ever have to worry about, so do not worry about not being up to fulfilling your small part in the play.
But do not make idols of those who came before you. Do not believe that the greatness exhibited by them does not exist in some degree in you as well. It lives in you, or else you would not be able to appreciate it in others.
You need not do great things, you merely need to do what you were born to do, be what you were born to be. You only have to become aware of the nobility and the possibilities that are latent in us all. Appreciate it in your role models, accept it in yourself, encourage it in others. These three things, acting upon one another, will strengthen each, thus making yourself and others stronger, thus raising up all of humanity. It is within you, it is within all of us. This is our future, if we are to have one. It is a choice for us to make. If you have a better option, I’d love to hear about it. We are all in it together.