More and more these days, I find myself going back to quote by Mathama Ghandi “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
This week, the state in which I live, North Carolina, voted on and passed Amendment One. It is a change to the state constitution which bars recognizing any domestic legal union other than marriage between a man and a woman. While it has implications affecting child custody, financial and health care issues for unmarried couples, it boiled down to being about same-sex unions.
Many states have such a ban already on the books and some states have even been voting to remove it. North Carolina voted to add one.
Regardless of the specifics of the amendment or personal, political, or religious beliefs, I believe that to approve such an amendment promotes judgment, discord, and separatism instead of unity, harmony, and compassion. I am very saddened that, as I see it, people would choose to live guided by fear and prejudice.
In this situation and many others, I find comfort in telling myself to “be the change.” I am never fully in control of anything in this world other than myself. I cannot tell others what to think or do or begin to know what is best for them. I respect their right to decide what they think is best for them just as I hope my same right will be respected. All I can do is conduct myself in a manner in accordance with what I would like to see more of in the world. Be the change.
I have been divorced for eight years now. My ex-husband and I have had legal conflict since day one. Over the past several years, I have incorporated and lived this philosophy more and more in these interactions. We just settled a lawsuit out of court last month which he brought against me almost five years ago. The local court initially ruled in my favor dismissing the charges and finding that there was not enough evidence for a trial. He appealed this decision. So, the case went to the state supreme court. They ruled that he did, at least, have a right to a trial. I appealed this decision and lost.
So, after four years and way too much money, we were back where we started. I agreed to a settlement which does not make any legal or financial sense by traditional standards. Even my lawyer advised me against it. But, it does make a lot of personal sense for me. I wanted peace and to be able to move forward with my life. Instead of acting out of a sense of what I believe to be fair or right, I allowed what I want in my life to guide my actions.
In the book, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose, Ekhart Tolle writes:
If peace is what you really want, then you will choose peace. If peace mattered to you more than anything else and if you knew yourself to be spirit rather than a little me, you would remain nonreactive and absolutely alert when confronted with challenging people or situations. You would immediately accept the situation and thus become one with it rather than separate yourself from it. Then out of your alertness would come a response. Who you are (consciousness), not who you think you are (small me), would be responding. It would be powerful and effective and would make no person or situation into an enemy.
Be the change. It’s an option in all situations. Be the change….with current partners or ex’s, with parents, with children, with siblings, with co-workers, with the cashier at the grocery store, with those annoying neighbors, with the car trying to merge into your lane, with homosexuals and heterosexuals alike. It is a conscious decision about who you want to be regardless of the people or happenings around you.
If you want to see more kindness and compassion in the world, exercise kindness and compassion in your daily activities. If you would like to see the planet treated with more regard, do this in your own life. If you want your rights respected, extend the same to others. If you do not want to be judged, do not judge others. If you want more peace, make peace the priority. All you can ever control and change is your own world. In doing so, you create a ripple effect which does change some part of the world and lights the way for others. Be the change you wish to see.
Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened.
~ The Buddha
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I am so moved by this post. I’ve been so sad since the NC vote, more division, more polarization, hurt and injustice. BUT…. in the midst of it all, I, too, find myself coming back to the Gandhi quote. Be the change. Live it, be it, relate to others from this place.
As Tolle says, “If peace is what you really want, then you will choose peace.” And it is a matter of constantly choosing peace. It is the only thing that comes close to a “formula.”
You’ve done a wonderful job here of pulling together these truths.
Thank you for the kind words about the post, Louise. As in any situation in life, we can choose to focus on the negative in this situation or the positive. I think it is positive that it was such a hot issue and that so many people became aware of it. I do believe that progress was made even though the amendment passed. It is a process which will take time for people to get used to the ideas and to accept change. Until then, we can be the change in our own worlds. This philosophy always works in every situation for me and makes me feel like I am contributing positively.
Well said Debbie!
Many thanks, Tom! 🙂
Thanks for the reminder Debbie. Especially a reminder that change is the option in every situation! It’s so easy for us to think we can change everything and everyone else but self-change is difficult and challenging. I worked in a field that wasn’t allowing me to be the change in the world but I switched fields and make a difference every day. If everyone realizes the change starts within them, people will be able to achieve great things in their lives.
It is also easy to get completely overwhelmed and think that we are powerless to change anything. I feel this way sometimes. That is when I remind myself that the only thing I can change is me. That, alone, is challenging enough and, yes, if everyone just works on this, the world would be a better place!