Why do we tell kids they can change the world? Really, what are we setting them up for? Is it childish to still believe that we can change the world at all? Isn’t it egotistical to think that you, yes, just little ol’ you, are the one that can change the world?
Perhaps when we look at children we see the pure potential of humanity and the natural response is to place our hopes in them. That allows me to be jaded and to hold onto the stunting idea that if the world is going to change, someone else who is braver, smarter, and better looking is going to do it.
Yet the world cries out, no matter how jaded I try to be to it. If spiritual enlightenment is to recognize my connection to the ultimate divine and all living things, I must acknowledge that connection means I am responsible for the world. I am connected to the pain in the world as I am the pain I feel for my life losses.
That connection can be too much to bear. The pain of the entire world is up to me to fix?
Recently, I was in the house of one of our congregants who had a drawing on her refrigerator. It says it’s a Taos legend. “So then… Earthmaker looked around at what they had done. “What a mess! We’ll have to smash it all down and start all over again!” Then coyote looked around and he said, “Oh, I don’t know. It’s only a little planet. Let’s fix it up!”
Perhaps all the pain in the world and all the change that must be done is littler than we think, after all, when looking at the vast expanse of the cosmos and the immense span of time that the Earth has existed. We have short, brief lives that should be spent, even childishly so, believing that we can change the world. And then doing it.
Books and books and books have been written on how to change the world. There’s one at the UUA bookstore right now that’s pretty neat. But I think the key element is relationship with the people who are most affected by the things that must change. We must follow the mothers who have lost their children because of deportation, the native peoples who have lost their lands to climate change, the poor who can no longer afford to feed their family. They know the pain of the world so acutely that we must accompany them. If we feel like coyote, that we don’t know, then let us follow those who do, and build a sacred community with those who need us the most. So that you, even little ol’ you, are the one who can change the world.
Rev. Shawna Foster