independent

Friday 25 July 2014

Real change must come from within ourselves

CANON NIALL AHERN

Published 08/01/2013|11:47

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ANEW YEAR has dawned. We are beginning again. Or is it the same old routine? Are we so apathetic or disillusioned or just so tired that we do not have the capacity to move into new hope? A New Year beckons us to change. But let the change start with ourselves. Mahatma Gandhi believed that we must be the change we want to see in the world. This was well demonstrated when he helped India gain its independence. Gandhi was a revolutionary man, but he accomplished India's emergence as a nation without starting a revolution. In fact, he advocated no violence. One of the most powerful countries in the world yielded to the commitment of one man and the dream of millions.

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In order for things to change, we have to change. We can't change others; we can only change ourselves. However, when we change, it changes everything. And in doing so, we truly can be the change we want to see in the world.

We live in peculiar times. More communication devices than ever before connect us, yet more people live alone. We want to belong to communities, but our cities can be very lonely places. We buy more and more things with more and more money, but they don't make us happy. Life satisfaction was higher during post-war rationing in the 1940s.

The rich are getting richer, but nearly 10 per cent of Irish people are shockingly poor. The other 90 per cent experience other kinds of poverty. Most of us feel that our lives are missing something. Membership in political parties and unions continues to decline, yet tens of thousands of Irish people took to the streets to protest the war on Iraq and Irish people raised millions of euros for tsunami relief even in these recessionary times.

We feel things very deeply and we want to do something, but sometimes the scale of the issues makes it difficult for us. We ask ourselves: 'How can I make a difference? What can I do? How can I be the change?' And we resign ourselves to the preconceived notion that nothing we do will make a difference anyway and on we go.

Changing the self is how one can ' be the change'. Always remember that this is your world, the things that happen here are directly affected by you. There are no ordinary moments, there are no trivial actions. Everything you do, everything you say (or don't say) matters. Look at every action and reaction and ask yourself: 'Am I being the change I want to see in the world in the year 2013'?

Part of the human condition seems to be a desire to accomplish noble acts, to be the change, to inspire others to greatness. A fireman rushes into a burning building to rescue a mother and child. A soldier jumps between his comrade and a dangerous landmine. A child climbs a tree to rescue a pet cat. In every walk of life people seek to find ways to be needed, to be important to others, to accomplish things that will be of benefit to mankind.

Our outer world is a mirror of our inner world, with no exceptions. To change our outer world, we must start with our inner world. If you want more prosperity, be more generous and be open to receive generosity from others. If you want more love, be more loving and be more open to receiving love. Stop judging others and practice acceptance and compassion. We cannot change others, only ourselves. Instead of pushing against what others are doing that you perceive to be wrong, focus on yourself.

We are certainly aware that our world and our country need so many developments and corrections. There is a stress and strain in 2013 Ireland that was anticipated and it is so hard on so many. Within all this there is a call to be effective agents of change on the very ground on which we stand; in the ordinary and domestic encounters of our lives. Let us be the microcosm of the good and selfless world we so greatly desire. A worthy thought for this New Year!

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