Friday, March 14, 2008

The World Needs You...

Changing of the Light c 2008 Lynda Lehmann


This week I've read a few blog entries that express a negative mindset brought on by the events of the week. Many of us here in the US, and especially in New York State, feel sickened by the behavior and ensuing scandal unfolding around a man we thought to have integrity. We're also worried about the price of gas, the cost of flour, unemployment, and the rupture of the economic bubble. As if that's not enough, we have antibiotics in our water at the same time that resistant strains are continuing to rear their ugly heads. We have an epidemic of STDs among teenagers, an epidemic of tornadoes and other extreme weather events made worse by Global Warming, and ongoing and pending wars around the globe. I could go on and on, and I know you could, too. Many of us are feeling overwhelmed, depressed, and just plain negative.

I think this is partly due to our forgetting to look at things holistically. I think we have to try to find love in our hearts no matter what is happening around us. If we look to the outside world, we will never find it. The human condition is pathetic. But it is also glorious. As for the “pathetic” part, we can transform it only one person at a time, by transforming ourselves. All the evils that we hate to see on the daily news are, in my opinion, propelled by the lack of a healthy and mature self-love. It is a lack of mature self-love that makes a person unable to love others, and to act, therefore, in greed and unbridled self-interest.

How should we define "healthy self-love"? Certainly we're not referring to vanity or narcissism, but to the inner confidence and coping ability engendered by a rational processing of life's experiences. We're talking about a willingness to look at cause and effect rather than buying into oversimplifications, and being mindful that there are infinitely many more positive behaviors, motivations, and transactions turning the world on any given day, than there are evil, negligent, or selfish deeds.

Our perception of the world, or our "generalized other," to borrow a term from psychology, begins with the expectations we have of ourselves, of our own behaviors and motivations. If deep down inside we know we are needy, greedy, and urgent, then we will look for those traits in others. If we operate from a position of strength and self-love, on the other hand, we will project the same onto other people more often, and find more of our inner resources left intact to meet our challenges. And one of our challenges is to carry on in love and good faith while remembering that the headlines are just that: announcements of misdeeds. What about the thousands, indeed millions of people who care for their families, perform their responsibilities, or perform their jobs well and with honesty, every day? They are the salt of the earth, the heroes. The guys in the headlines are the exception. They are the frayed and stained dirty laundry, the seamy underside of the human condition. But they remain, thank goodness, the exception. And eventually, they get hung out to dry in the sun of justice, however imperfect the system may be.

If we can see the world in a changing light, maybe we can find our way to a better world. So let's remember to look at the whole picture, and shine our light into the darkness! The world needs us.

What do you think?

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29 comments:

  1. I remember at a course, in my youth, a huge sheet of white paper entitled 'Good and Bad' with a black dot in the center facing us till the speaker arrived. He asked what we saw on the paper - most said a black dot.
    Interesting, the speaker said, that we put so much emphasis on a tiny black dot, the bad, on a huge sheet of white, the good, paper. I've never forgotten and lived my life accordingly.
    Excellent thought-provoking post Lynda.

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  2. seeing it as a whole is The Way, Lynda!
    IF God, The creator created me then its the same God who created the rest too.. so accept ALL and be ONE with everything. Never try to analyze each and evrything. Its beyond the human mind's perception.
    Act when needed, withdraw when required is what i believe.

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  3. Lynda:

    I agree with you. Life seems to be getting more and more depressing. It seems that if you take the time to stop and smell the daisies, you run the risk of being overwhelmed by the stench of everything else.

    I try to overlook all of this stuff, and just look on the bright side. I know that sounds corny, but that's seems to be the only thing that works. We just have to stay focused on the big picture - the important things in life. My wife. My daughter. My home...etc.

    We've had a few days of bad weather, and today the Queen and I were looking up at the clouds. Instead of talking about how depressing the day was, we admired the cloud patterns for their natural beauty - something you manage to capture in you images.

    Have a nice day.

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  4. Hi Lynda, what an incredibly profound, beautiful and positive post.. wow..
    It's something that really bugs me, why the majority of the media always focuses on the negative news. Why we as human beings seem to prefer the negative headlines..

    I believe you're absolutely.. That the way we look at ourselves is a determining factor of how we look at others. Which traits we choose to see in others.
    I do believe that there is good in everyone, but that the way we treat them (or choose to see them) is a big factor in how they will behave. And this certainly is the case for children..

    As you so beautifully said, each and everyone of us can shine a light into this world, thank you so much for sharing yours!!

    Ellen

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  5. Lynda - I think you sum it up for many of us. I mostly feel bad for the young people just starting out - so much against them. It's overwhelming for us, but it must seem almost hopeless for them. I will say though, that my daughter is very astute in recognizing it, but she keeps on plugging away anyway. I think she has a glimpse of that light!

    Kathy

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  6. "if deep down inside we know we are needy, greedy, and urgent, then we will look for those traits in others. If we operate from a position of strength and self-love, on the other hand, we will project the same onto other people more often, and find more of our inner resources left intact to meet our challenges" - i love this, lynda. really love it.

    isn't it a shame though that the people who generally need to move away from needy, greedy, and urgent are the ones who are unwilling to look inside? what can we do?

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  7. Hí, Lynda:

    I passed by just to say hello and I found a short but concise report of these days in the US, and I assure you I could make analogy with what happens in my country, and moreover, with my life.

    Taking a look at it, I could also stay fixed in the negative aspects of this present moment.

    But though it´s hard, I´m choosing to practice that kind of healthy self love, you are talking about, and I can almost hear your words like you were talking to me as if we were close friends (we´d probably be if it wasn´t for the distance!).

    Let´s concentrate in the positive aspects, let´s see half the glass full (not half of it empty).

    Any crisis is a certain chance to grow...

    Thank you for such edifying post!
    With love,
    Mariana.

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  8. Wow Lynda great post, I find that there is a lot of good in the world, don't forget we only hear about the bad stuff through the media, because that's what sells. You know I look to the stars because there is no hidden agenda, a star is a star and that's all it is, very reliable, we all have to find something in our lifes that gives it meaning.

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  9. Janice, that was a wise teacher! He brought home the point that it's easier to see just the obvious--the loudest or largest stimulus--while missing the forest for the trees. It's great if you can live your life keeping that kind of perspective! (I'm working on it!)

    Thanks for sharing!

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  10. I am in total agreement with you on all that, merging point. And I'll add my corollary: Keep my mouth shut until I have given the issue/point/discussion/argument some quiet and rational thought!

    And of course, often there is no sure solution to a problem, but there are always two sides to it (or more....)

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  11. That's nice, Swubird, that you and your wife look at the clouds together. I too, try to smell the roses, count my blessings, and feel grateful for the smaller things.

    Every day when I wake up, I'm overjoyed to have a new day, to see the sunshine and of course, smell the coffee! (don't mind those sprouted wheat bagels, either, lol...) I really do think it's the little things that make our lives rich. If we ignore them, we have turned off our senses and our ability to experience joy.

    Thanks for coming by, and have a joyous evening!

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  12. Ellen, the person who invents the "good-news station" will get rich! Those that exist, seem to exist to bolster a particular political or religious agenda, so that turns off thinking people even more, I think. Spreading good news and a good world view needs to be done without profiteering.

    If the profit motive weren't so out of hand, which it is in journalism as well as other media, we might get somewhere in building some confidence in the world, for our collective conscience.

    Maybe I'll start a "good-news" blog! :) Or maybe you should, as that would fit in well with what you already do!

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  13. Kathy,

    I hope your daughter will be able to keep her light alive. I have the same hope for my daughter, who is 25.

    I sometimes fear that the generations born after the Baby Boom will become so jaded by bad news and scandal, that they won't even want to right wrongs, or be able to hold the hope that the common good is in any sense, attainable.

    My best to your daughter.

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  14. flowers, thank you for commenting. What can we do? Tranform ourselves, use rational thought process and discipline to avoid becoming as shallow and reactive as some of the people around us.

    Just imagine the changes that could occur in the world if there were a grass-roots movement, international, for self-awareness. Half the interpersonal conflicts would die out before they took hold in malicious action, and we'd have so much more energy for the better things like positive actions and kindness.

    I could go on here, but i guess I'll save it for another post!

    Thanks for coming by! :)

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  15. Mariana, my dear,

    I could never tell by your bright and shining smile that anything is bothering you. I'm glad you try to practice a healthy self-love, for that is the only way to go. If we let our dependency needs take over our rational thought process, we are set up for many disappointments.

    I'm so glad to see you. Please email and let me know what's going on!

    Love to you too, Mariana. If you were closer by, I would invite you for coffee, right now!

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  16. Bob, I think you know that I feel the same way about nature and doing art. Being out in nature, and painting or photographing, fill me with such joy, I almost feel guilty!

    I don't know how many people feel bereft of joy--and people in terrible circumstances all over the world are not afforded much opportunity to experience joy--but I wish the greatest joy of being for every human. And that they should be without fear, suffering, and deprivation.

    I know that I'm very fortunate, and so are you!

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  17. Hello Lynda!

    I have been following the state of the USA and I can tell you that it doesn't look good. However I can tell you that before any major change things look always ugly (if the new is to rise, the old must be destroyed...).

    But you are right: we have to start sending good vibes to the world. If each and one of us start doing this, eventually, the world will become a better place!
    Meanwhile, all there is to be done is to take cover: let the cycle finish, the changes occur, the new cycle arrive; and send good vibes throughout the world (it is our responsibility to do so)!

    This was a peaceful post....

    Cheers

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  18. Hello Lynda!

    I have been following the state of the USA and I can tell you that it doesn't look good. However I can tell you that before any major change things look always ugly (if the new is to rise, the old must be destroyed...).

    But you are right: we have to start sending good vibes to the world. If each and one of us start doing this, eventually, the world will become a better place!
    Meanwhile, all there is to be done is to take cover: let the cycle finish, the changes occur, the new cycle arrive; and send good vibes throughout the world (it is our responsibility to do so)!

    This was a peaceful post....

    Cheers

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  19. It seems to be an enigma at the center of the human condition that we say we want things to go right and yet are endlessly fascinated by things going wrong. It needs people like you - and Janice's teacher! - to point out what is happening here: that a lot of the time, we are sifting through life to find the bad bits. It is important that we understand what we're doing. Only then do we have a chance to change.

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  20. After having lived that life for many years I have to say that I disagree with your premise. It's very romantic & it would be nice if it worked in the "real" world, but in my experience, it just doesn't. Even when you come from a standpoint of self-love, there are still going to be rapists & murderers in the world. Sometimes people need a kick in their complacency, too. If things are getting depressing, maybe it's time to think about & plan for real change, rather than hiding one's head in a jar of self-love. However, maintaining a positive attitude (if you can sustain it--good luck,) can be healthy for one's own being, at least. So long as it's not carried to the point of denial.

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  21. Lana, having a healthy self-love does not go hand-in-hand with or generate denial. It's my opinion that having a mature perspective and a healthy self-love goes a long way towards empowering us to work for positive change.

    I think it's people who LACK self-love, who are unable to love others and strive for the common good. Just my opinion...

    We're all challenged by life, to keep a positive attitude. I can remain painfully aware of the problems in the world and do my little bit to help, while still being mindful of being kind to myself and others.

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  22. Max,

    I think that the people of the world need to make room for allowing a collective political will to emerge from the inertia of our entertainment-clogged consciousness.

    If we spent one quarter of the time the average person spends watching TV, participating in democratic process, I think we'd be better off, don't you?

    Hope you're having a good week, Max!

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  23. Secret Simon, I agree with you! (Except for the part about me and Janice's teacher....blush...)

    We are each the matrix of our own experience--at least to some degree--and the perspective we allow ourselves to nurture is very important in determining how we act.

    It's great to see you, Simon!

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  24. such an excellent post Lynda....
    and so affirmative !!
    I agree that the love should start at home and with our neighbours....
    ...helping just one less fortunate soul can take our pain away ....

    compassion... kindness ...friendship and empathy...that's what parents and teachers should be showing our children of the future....

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  25. you are certainly right. i've been having these kinds of thoughts lately.. the world indeed needs us, and for us to change too.

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  26. Lynda you nailed lot of issues, and you are right the list is endless, but does not have to be. There is too much negativity around us. I used to react to everything, but it isn't worth stress of one person. If we need to resolve all these issues, we need to resolve them together, work together, and stop running after power, but to step back and see what we have and evaluate - just like how are you going to cut your house hold costs if you never look at what you are spending.

    At sometimes I think, will it be better, but there are too many variables to solve now.... Lynda nice photo, and great post. Thanks for sharing your insights, Anna :)

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  27. so true!! and rightly said: "let's remember to look at the whole picture, and shine our light into the darkness"

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  28. Aracir, Anna, Kim, miladysa, and Mystic Rose,

    Thanks very much for your comments. I'm sorry to be late in responding but life takes over, as you know, and the computer has a pretty good hold on me, as well!

    If only I could stay focused and have the time and MEMORY to know what tasks I need to address next. I know you know, what I mean!

    Have a great weekend! :)

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