One day, I woke up from a dream that saw me stranded on an island. Just like many of us, who take in the politics of the day, we seem to be stuck in the middle of competing viewpoints.
“There’s battle lines being drawn,
Nobody’s right, if everybody’s wrong.”
— For What it’s Worth by Buffalo Springfield
And it seems getting off our island is not that easy. It means possibly getting swept away either with one strong current of beliefs or the other … rational or otherwise.
However, my farmer-friend, Heinz, had a stock answer against such strong viewpoints and he’d say this whenever anyone came a-calling to promote their particular brand of religion, “I know all about your belief. You’re right and everybody else is wrong.”
I’m not knocking it– it’s just not my style. And yet, when you try to see both sides to an argument, you seem to become a target for both sides.
Is that the fate of anyone who wants to promote peace and understanding?
Personally, I knew that if I truly believed in people and wanted to be of service, I had to make it off my island. I had no choice.
And, as soon as I had made the decision, there was a realization that took hold: clearly something bigger was at work here.
My problem was my own humanity. I set my self-expectations much too high and failed miserably, often because my best wasn’t good enough. It disappointed me, and it disappointed others—it was hell!
The truly amazing thing though, was that when I was disappointed, or was down and out, more people came to help me than I could ever have imagined. I concluded that I was not alone in following this path and that my faith was well founded.
Then, I became aware of a number of resources. One of the most impressive for me was a course taught to students by the Toronto District School Board, called Character Education.
The underlining principles were:
1. Your character is defined by what you do, not by what you say or believe.
2. Good character involves doing the right thing, even if there is a risk involved.
3. What you do matters; one person can make a big difference.
4. Good character makes you a better person and it makes the world a better place.
I thought ‘out of the mouth of babes’ … Wow! If little kids are being taught this, then what’s wrong with the rest of us?
The resulting lesson I learned was that I don’t have to ‘change the world’, I just have to add – as humbling as this is – my two-cents worth. It may not be much but, working together, it all adds up.
Maybe that’s what Leonard Cohen meant when he wrote:
“Ring the bells that still can ring,
Forget your perfect offering.
There`s a crack in everything,
That`s how the light gets in.”
Is this possible? Well, no matter how, we can all use a little light. I think so … or maybe I’m still dreaming.