Yesterday I came across a note on Twitter from a guy who whined about how the world was going to hell in a hand basket because everyone (including himself) was greedy, selfish, self-centered creatures who had no regard for others.
I replied to him suggesting he should live the change he wants to see in others, that he can set the example so others will be inspired to follow. I went on to explain that those words were spoken by Mahatma Gandhi, and it seemed to work for him, as he inspired a nation to stand up for itself, and still inspires men and women a half-century later.
His response to me was: "I know it's cynical but I think this idea of being a catalyst for change is bullshit. Change only happens after major catastrophes and massive social events. But day-to-day, people remain the same selfish, self-centered creatures they've always been. Historically, every good thing we have accomplished, socially speaking, has been the result of something horrible happening. People just don't wake up one day and go, "You know, I'm a real asshole, I think I'm going to start being a good person." Disaster, death, destruction, pain, those are the sparks that induce change in people, like the proverbial Phoenix from the ashes. In nature, it is a necessity. Forest fires, brush fires, volcanic eruptions, flooding, all of these seemingly devastating events make way for new-found fertility. We are no different because we are still a part of nature, no matter how many unnatural things we surround ourselves with."
I must say I found his response doubly sad. To think that it takes great pain on a grand scale for anyone to change their attitudes and behavior is, in my view, ludicrous. I have had countless small revelations in my life where I’ve analyzed the results of my behavior and not only saw the need for change, but also made that change. I’ve seen and heard people I respected and wanted to be like them, and I began to mimic their positive behavior. People the world over do this on a daily basis.
I sent him two responses: “If you are not willing to make the changes you deem needed in others, why should anybody else?” and then, “If you become a giving and compassionate person, then there will be at lease one less asshole in the world.”
I can’t wait to get his next reply. lol
Book Reivew: What Belongs To You by Garth Greenwell
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