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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