Sometimes unforeseen changes begins with a simple decision. St. Francis begins to rebuild an church one brick at a time...and a movement still vibrating begins. John Wycliffe begins translating the Bible into English and now billions can read the Scriptures in their own tongues. Bartolomeo de las Casas protests slavery and the long road to Emancipation begins. William Wilberforce stays in politics and fights for the end of slavery and scores of other causes for 50 years.
The challenges of the USA compel action, but voices of change are quickly drowned out in a sea of agitprop polemics. The current levels of hypocrisy and self-deception, short-term thinking and political manipulation are unprecedented in our history. It is not only the elites that are to blame. Millions of people are consciously or unconsciously capitulating to a fatalism of inaction. The gulf between professed principles and actual practices in widening daily. Consider:
- "Everyone" loves the concept of a balanced budget. But no one will even begin with small cuts in over bloated salaries.
- Immigration should be guided by law, but anyone supporting a modicum of regulation is a racist or xenophobe.
- Millions are looking for work, but unwilling to labor in fields or service jobs.
- Leaders decry the influence of lobbyists, then join their ranks as they depart "public service."
- Amoral anarchy is lamented as millions quietly engage in vicarious games and entertainment venues.
- Tobacco is social evil number one...but billions of tax dollars flow from its consumption and we are making a worse mistake with "medical" marijuana.
- We advocate a healthy lifestyle, then pass out condoms to middle-school kids and offer "4th meal" fried food at midnight (to all the consumers of "medical marijuana.")
Lamenting these and other evils, from abortion to divorce, redefinitions of marriage and family, educational outcomes and government intrusions into religion is easy - changing minds, hearts and wills in not.
Cries for spiritual awakening are the best start...and may they grow in intensity and sincerity.
Calls for activism and voting are helpful.
Maybe there is one more step...or millions of steps...that can propel lasting change. Perhaps each of us can have one moment that changes the world.
Our one moment arrives unexpectedly. It is veiled in other apparently "normal" decisions. Our moment dawns as we decide each day to love God supremely, love our neighbors unselfishly through our work and demonstrate in deed and declaration the veracity of the first principles that make for a flourishing life and society. If millions of "ordinary" people embark on a devoted and disciplined pathway of reverence for God, respect for all people, rigorous self-examination and right practices in their private and public life, the world will change.
Some may emerge as leaders, even historic figures. Others will be agents of change one relationship at a time. Instead of continual lamentation, let's ceaselessly labor for the common good. Instead of captivity to edutainment, let's learn the proven pathways that yield prosperity for future generations. Instead of immediate pleasure, let's infuse principles that allow the next generation to flourish.
One moment changes the world - it is our decision today.