Blog Archives

What If It Only Takes Ten More People Becoming A Little More Loving to Change the World?

I have been reading and learning a lot about forgiveness. We all have different proclivities for how we handle anger and hurt. Recently a blog post about our responses to horrifying acts of terrorism against innocent children challenged me to explore the polarities of love and anger and forgiveness.
I’m not sure about this, but some scriptures and some experiences I have had myself make me suspect that forgiving someone has healing power not only for ourselves, but for the offending person. And here’s the freaky part: it can happen concretely simultaneously across great distances without being communicated. I can’t prove it. I have not read anything much about it, but I have had some minor, but thought provoking, experiences.

Also, years ago, I read a small book called “The Hundredth Monkey” which had some research statistics that claimed that monkeys on separate islands and continents can suddenly simultaneously learn new “human” kinds of skills. Their conclusion was that when a certain level of a population of a species acquire a new trait or ability, it somehow triggers a leap in the species across the world. And the author’s hope was that if we as individuals became peaceful, eventually the critical number of our species would bring about world wide peace.

I kind of liked the idea and shared it with friends, but my logical self was very dubious. And since statistical studies such as this can seldom control all the variables, I took this with a grain of salt.  Until recently when driving, I hesitated to start across an intersection when the light turned green because more and more people are running lights right after they turn red. And sure enough someone did. In the last four or five years I have observed a steady increase in this disturbing phenomena.

Something clicked for me today. Is this a negative example of the “hundredth monkey” theory?

Again, as David Hume taught, cause and effect are almost impossible to prove, which is why we measure statistical probability.  But even a remote possibility that our own small struggle to become more loving, forgiving, peaceable people might have a lot more significance for the larger scheme of things would be reason enough to expend more serious time and effort on that project!

Most of us reach a point in our lives where we recognize that we cannot change others, we may can facilitate their attempts to change, but we can’t make anyone want to change and we can’t magically change them even when they seek change. It’s a helpless feeling and tends to make us feel pretty hopeless about things like drug addiction, terrorism and war, and the gross inequality of resources and standard of living across our planet. And even when we are consciously on a Spiritual journey putting time and effort into becoming more loving, forgiving, and peaceful, there are times it hardly seems worth the struggle, if we are managing at least to avoid breaking the big “TEN” in case there really are a heaven and a hell.

What if it matters a lot more than we can imagine for us to clean up our only mildly toxic act: our cursing bad drivers, keeping people out of our lane when they have ignored the warning that theirs is closed further down the road, turning people against one another through gossip, holding grudges, spending a major part of the rest of our lives seeking vengeance under the name of justice for real harms done us or those we love, or even just blaming everyone else for our own failures?

I tried to teach my children to judge the effect of their actions by the age old excuse, “Everybody else is doing it.”  What will the world become like if everyone else does what you are doing? What will hotels have to charge if every person steals a towel or a pillow? What will driving anywhere be like if everyone drives like it’s a race to beat out all the others?

Or maybe even more pertinent, perhaps everyone not doing the same things you are not doing. Not offering help to someone that hurt our feelings, not reaching across differences, not sharing from our abundance because we assume the worst of others. Not picking up trash. Often we simply ignore our sins of omission.

The infamous butterfly fluttering on the other side of the world isn’t making a moral choice, but we do each make numerous moral choices as to what we do or neglect to do each day.

What if it only takes ten more truly loving people to change the world? Not by their accomplishments, but by their love, forgiveness, and peace? Will you and I be one of that ten?

God is in the Timing

David Hume once said that there really isn’t any way to prove a relationship between a specific cause and effect.
Today, we try to show statistical probability, if we can control all the variables. However, statistics is a much abused tool, because very rarely, if ever, can we be sure we have eliminated all possible causes other than the one we are measuring in a particular relationship.
That said, I’ll be offering several small stories from many unproven, but to my prejudiced mind, probable answered prayers.
Years ago we were a home away from home for young people traveling in a non-denominational Christian repertory theater ministry. Teams of four or five covered different areas of the country, but at Thanksgiving one year three different groups called to ask if they could spend the holiday with us.
We had started a new business the year before in what unfortunately had turned into a recession and work and money were now often scarce. After some serious prayer, I agreed to add fifteen hearty eaters to our family of eight. When I mentioned the Thanksgiving invasion to some friends, they kindly offered a couple of venison roasts for our meal. The next morning an unprecedented gift of several ducks and a dozen quail arrived by mail from a distant relative. We now had the ingredients for an authentic Thanksgiving feast.
What we didn’t have was a chef. My cooking skills are minimal. And I had never cooked any of these before. I did wonder if I wasn’t pushing a bit, but the knowledge that if I ruined any of these gifts, there wasn’t going to be a Thanksgiving dinner, prompted me to ask God for someone to cook our feast. In my experience with prayer, there’s a test of faith before the answer. This was no exception. The first two vans of hungry young people arrived the morning before, none of whom admitted to any cooking experience, but who did pool their resources to buy some pies to add to our meat and vegetables. The last group arrived late Wednesday evening, after I had stepped out in faith and begun thawing all our treasures. I stood at the door welcoming each as they came in the door with the question, “Do you by any chance know how to cook ducks and quail?” The next to last person, replied, “No, but Chris used to be a chef at a fancy restaurant in San Francisco. Maybe he does.”
And yes, the very last person out of the van was Chris and he did indeed know how to cook all the wild things God had sent for our Thanksgiving feast.
Luke 12:29 And do not keep striving for what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not keep worrying.
I confess that I am a congenital worrier, but the goodie for that baddie is that being a wus leads to constant prayer and prayer kindles an awareness of God.