Friday, June 09, 2006

Light a Candle

Light a Candle, Amherst, NH, March 2006, HP Photosmart R817, Exposure 1/25 sec @ f2.8, ISO 200, no flash © Steven Crisp

How do you respond to injustice? Are you outraged? Indignant? Offended? Upset? Do you wish for retribution, or at least that the perpetrator get his "justice". What do you personally do about it?

I offer that most of the time -- even when we are very well-intentioned -- we are effectively "cursing the darkness". Complaining about the injustice, and how things must change to rectify the situation. But have we really taken the big picture into perspective? Do we really understand the root cause of the "problem"? Are we really sure that our suggested "remedy" will not just create its own set of injustices down the road?

Why not "light a candle"? -- ask yourself what changes you can make within your own sphere of influence to help the situation, or more likely, your understanding and acceptance of the situation.

I suggest that if you are thinking of the need for justice and retribution, you may just be contributing to perpetuating continued injustices. Think instead of wisdom. What wisdom would either (a) avoid this injustice from occurring or (b) come to accept that it is a part of life and will likely continue to occur for the foreseeable future. Do you possess this wisdom - truly, deeply, innately? If not, why not work on that first, before suggesting to others what changes are needed. Then, over time, you can model the behavior and perspective you've come to conclude is needed to avoid or minimize or accept such injustices in the future.

For those of you that feel this is thinking too "small", and cannot really make a difference, at least anytime soon, I offer the following quotes:
"Millions of people agree that world-change starts with self-change, but few will do it."
-- Vernon Howard

"Throughout history, the really fundamental changes in societies have come about not from dictates of governments and the results of battles but through vast numbers of people changing their minds -- sometimes only a little bit...By deliberately changing the internal image of reality, people can change the world. Perhaps the only limits to the human mind are those we believe in."
-- Willis Harman, Global Mind Change

"We must become the change we want to see."
-- Mahatma Gandhi
And finally, my favorite quote on changing the world comes from an inscription on the tomb of an Anglican Bishop in Westminster Abby (1100 A.D.):
When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world. As I grew older and wiser, I discovered the world would not change, so I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country.

But it, too, seemed immovable.

As I grew into my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those closest to me, but alas, they would have none of it.

And now, as I lie on my deathbed, I suddenly realize: If I had only changed myself first, then by example I would have changed my family.

From their inspiration and encouragement, I would then have been able to better my country, and who knows, I may have even changed the world.

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