Yesterday at my son’s school, I saw this quote painted in blue on a wall:
“You must be the change you wish to see in the world”
Words spoken by a leader in full integrity with his message (ouch).
It made me wonder what this quote means to us today.
Does it mean contracting away from what we don't like? Withdrawing into our homes, switching off 'upsetting' news, pretending everything’s as it's always been, and hoping the problems will just go away? Firmly sticking to the 'business as usual' myth?
Or does it mean leaning towards the discomfort that’s here, being fully awake and aware of what's going on, and willing to tolerate the pain of seeing a world trajectory we don't like, so we can ultimately move beyond emotion and reaction into discovering what else is possible?
Do we contract or connect?
I think deep down we know what this quote means but it's challenging to admit. Denial is sometimes easier but has far greater consequences. For when you deny how things are, you're wedded to what was rather than seeing what is. We can't respond to anything effectively if we're fixated in a reality that no longer exists!
In order to move out of denial, we must work on accepting how things are. Which can very quickly bring up grief for what we've lost and fear for what might be.
For it’s not easy to lean closer to the world we are in, because that means we have to show up every single day looking directly at what makes us deeply resistant and uncomfortable.
But again we have a choice - to let the fear and discomfort freeze us, or use it as the precise fuel we need to wake up. For that, I believe, is the invitation in front of each and every one of us as citizens of this earth.
The alternative - to move away from what we don’t want, never has and never will be an effective recipe for connection or contentment, in your personal life or in our world. Because nothing will change if we all bury our heads in the sand and insist we can see the view clearly from there.
The alternative isn’t really an alternative is it?
To be the change you wish to see in the world, I believe requires a few skills that aren't commonplace in our world right now. And yet without question, the more we develop and use the higher capacities and intelligences we have within us to respond to the challenges we face, in our own lives and collectively, the better we will be. Here are some qualities that immediately spring to mind:
- advanced empathy
- the cultivation and active use of wisdom
- integration of head, heart and body intelligences
- ability to tolerate vulnerability, discomfort and uncertainty and still show up
- ability to reconnect to yourself and find your centre, so no matter what's going on around you, you can function effectively
- choosing the highest response availabe to you in every interaction, verbal and written
- cultivating awareness of our sacred connection to all of life
- ability to face inconvenient truths and take courageous action in spite of them
- learning to see the lessons and the gifts in the trials we face, and bringing these learnings into daily life
- if you're called to lead, leading with your heart
- holding onto a vision for a more collaborative, peaceful and united world.
Can you be the change you wish to see in the world?
Every time I read this quote I am deeply inspired and hopeful. For I believe with all my heart we each have all that we need within us for personal and collective transformation. We have so much wisdom within us. It's time to bring it forward.
Would you add any to this list? Feel free to leave a comment below or send me an email.