A conversation with my friend Ehon on the weekend prompted this post. I shared with him a story of a girl I recently met in San Francisco who by way of introducing herself, asked me a question: “So what are you doing to save the world?”
This kind of question usually grates on me, and probably because when I was her age I also had this drive in my life to “save the world”. When I hear it spoken I recall my own innocent desire to be of service in the world; a drive that while having good intentions actually came from a very limited perspective. Of course, to cut-some-slack and be a little graceful towards myself and the girl I met in San Francisco, it is not surprising that we came to the view that the world needed to be changed.
The world is currently facing many ‘challenges’ including food security, health crises, climate change and in some parts of the world – war and economic collapse. On top of this, the social consciousness is littered with images, stories and examples of this need ‘to save’. From superhero stories to the modern day samaritan-come-changemaker, we celebrate people who save others from vulnerability. It is no wonder that when we see images of vulnerability and suffering, that our first instinct is to save them.
It is difficult for me to pinpoint the moment that I realised the world doesn’t need to be changed, but it started somewhere around the discovery of the principle of Soul. I discussed this in the post on Ego and Entrepreneurship, whereby I can identify myself not in the human consciousness, but in the spiritual consciousness. I have a higher identity beyond myself as Benny Callaghan. This is a kind of “I am a spiritual being having a human experience, rather than a human being having a spiritual experience” kind of thing.
Part of this realisation was that there is more to the world than the human consciousness. Until this time I had succumbed to the popular worldview that humans were the most powerful force on the planet. This is very naive, and one only has to look at the trouble we collectively got ourselves into to see that. There are many forces affecting the world today beyond physical forces (geologic change, climate, physics) and human forces (politics, economics, societal change). There are also powerful forces that are largely invisible to many on the planet, making them no less powerful or significant.
Ehon and I got talking on the weekend about theories of change. We both shared the idea that the only person we could change was ourselves. I would also suggest that ethically the only person we should change is ourselves. Who are we to know what is best for another, or why they are experiencing the challenges they are facing? Even if we did have such wisdom about others and the world, it is only the Ego that thinks it is the one doing the changing.
So what does this mean? Do you just sit back and watch the world and its blessings unfold?
There is a strong distinction between interference and involvement. Taking a higher view of a situation and realising that there are more factors at play than us as humans does not mean that we don’t get involved. The ethics of when and how to act is one of the purposes of this blog. I believe that there are powerful ways to act and get involved in ‘change-work’, and have witnessed some beautiful and creative ways that respect the freedom of others. That aside, the one thing that we can do regardless of our situation is to change ourselves.
I am not here to change the world; I am here to be of service to the greater good as the world changes. I know that this journey involves me primarily changing myself. There is a distinction here which I am still trying to understand. And bless the energy of wanting to ‘save the world’. It is still a beautiful thing to step outside of yourself and see yourself as part of something bigger.