Sunday, July 23, 2006

The first step

"Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever."
- Mohandas K. ("The Mahatma") Gandhi

Note that the "Great Soul" did not advance the cause of nihilism, of getting as much as we can today and to hell with tomorrow. He recommends that we act today as if we want our actions to have an effect forever.

If we know what is right, we should take action on it. Today. Without waiting for others to show their support.

Without complaining how badly others are behaving. Without accusing them of greed or self-interest. Without faulting them for doing little or nothing to improve the situation.

Complaining or accusing others of doing wrong accomplishes nothing, except to create enemies and opponents to change. No advance can be made in a negative environment.

As Mao said, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step (even that is a paraphrase, I believe, but the gist is there). That step must be made by one person. And it's a lonely first step as so many others do not want us to move from the status quo they cling to desperately.

The Mahatma accomplished what many believe were miracles by virtue of his own voice, his own thoughts, his own determination and his ability to see roadblocks as detours, not as dead ends. Single-handedly, he prevented rioting and mayhem in Calcutta when the British army stayed away believing that it would be the victim of mobs. He guided a fundamentally peaceful and poorly educated population to independence from what had been the world's largest empire.

Gandhi had many enemies. Yet he did not worry about his enemies. Instead he focussed on gathering friends and supporters.

He learned much along the way. I, as a very young child half a world away in a rural backwater, learned from him as he learned. I listened when he spoke.

I have taken the first step in my generation. And many others since. I have found many who would oppose me in my quest to make the world a better place. They hate. I care nothing for them.

I love those who have joined me, those who have come to understand the way to make things better.

There is only one way, so the choice is not hard. The choice is to join, to hate or to do nothing.

Learn today as if you will live forever. Learn first, then choose.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' shining a small light on the long path to a more peaceful, healthy and loving world.
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