By Tanya Tiger

There is a deep and abiding desire in the hearts of most people to make this world a better place.

When we allow ourselves to get still and quiet we can hear that small, yet persistent, whisper from within saying, “something isn’t right here.” Though we may try to distract ourselves from that truth by watching television, or becoming engaged in gossip, or keeping up with what’s trendy, we cannot silence that nagging echo, resonating in our core, “something isn’t right here.”

It can be difficult to accept that the world we live in is falling apart, and that we each hold some responsibility for its destruction. We want to believe that we are good people who would never harm another being, but our inaction makes us just as culpable as those who do direct harm.

It is when we are confronted with this reality, one which differs greatly from our previously held views about the world, that we may experience Cognitive Dissonance, which is basically the mental stress that comes from the existence of contradictory beliefs, actions or values, in our unbalanced world.  Those of us who experience Cognitive Dissonance react in ways which are counterproductive to what we know, deep down, to be true and real.

We see the pain in the world, but ignore it.

We see news about people starving but continue to waste food. We hear stories of other people making a difference, yet we discredit ourselves as “not being capable” and never even try to enact change. We turn our attention toward noise and distraction, accepting whatever opinions are fed to us as our own, and we stop (or never even begin) to educate ourselves about what is really happening in the world around us.

On some level, we may believe that by choosing to adopt another’s opinion, rather than forming and voicing our own, we avoid responsibility for the state of affairs in the world. What we fail to realize is that by choosing not to make a choice we have still made a decision. We have chosen to ignore, or even deny, the truth in an effort to remain in a state of blissful ignorance. There are also many of us who truly desire to make positive change happen, but we are left afraid or overwhelmed because we simply don’t know where to begin.

How do we begin to heal the world when everywhere you turn there is pain, anguish, and a loss of hope?

To those of us that desire change and are unafraid to begin, and know that it is up to us to decide what that change looks like, I share this quote from Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, “(o)urs is not the task of fixing the entire world at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach.”

We can become easily overwhelmed, and stop before we even begin, when we ponder the extent of the world’s suffering. If we really want to enact positive change then we must do as the quote says and begin with what is within our reach.

I believe the best place to begin this journey is within ourselves. It is vital that we first take time to turn within and, with the same tender loving care we would show an injured child, we must mend the wounds within us before we mend the wounds of others. When we are again whole, we can carry the healing forward to the others in our own homes, then our neighborhoods, then our cities, then our counties, then our states, then our countries, and so on.

Real and lasting change begins with the individual. It is clear to all of us that this world, and its people, are in trouble. We need one another now more than ever and yet the divisions among us seems deeper than ever before. The truth is, we are closer than we think and the barriers between us are thin. Some are even illusory, created by others for their own benefit. We need only to reach out our hands in trust, as a sign of unity, and the barriers which stand in the way of peace will fall away.

I stand here now, hands extended, knowing that I am not alone in my belief that we can be better and do better for ourselves and for humanity as a whole. I stand here with my heart wide open knowing that yes, I may be wounded on this journey, but there is strength in my vulnerability and a closed heart cannot breathe life into this mission of love.

I stand here now, fully aware that I hold a piece of the puzzle, as does each soul on this planet. I stand here now, fully aware that we need one another to complete this puzzle and that we cannot succeed alone. I stand here now and ask you to stand with me. We are many. Together we can show the few, who would put fear and hatred above love and peace, we refuse to cower at their feet.

I choose love. I choose unity. I choose peace.


Photo: Wikimedia

Editor: Peter Schaller