"I sought among them for a man that might set up a hedge, and stand in the gap before me in favor of the land." Ezekiel 22:30

Thursday, December 4, 2014

"You Want Change? You Can't Handle the Change!"

 Three Simple Changes You Can Make After Ferguson
"You want change?"

The title of this post might be a little embellished (read: "contrived") from a well-known line delivered by a well-known actor to another well-known actor in a well-known movie. Furthermore, it's not the first time your favorite blogger has embellished this well-known quote, as it is very similar to the title of another [not so] well-known recent blog post of mine. But you have to admit, it's a really good quote! (And the embellishment isn't all that bad either!)

If you think about it for a second, the point this embellishment makes will probably come into focus: in the on-going aftermath of this situation we call "Ferguson" everybody wants change - which is a good thing!

[...wait for it...]

But! (you knew there was a "but" coming didn't you?)

[dramatic pause for effect...]

...The fact of the matter is that we now have a starting point and nothing - repeat, nothing - more. And I'm sorry if that "point" bursts your "bubble." (see what I did there??)

Although my contrived embellished title rips off of some well-knowns, what's not so well known is just how exactly Ferguson is going to change hearts, minds, culture, society, and government. I keep hearing how we want "change," yet no one seems to put forth any concrete solutions.

For example, let's look at what one of the St. Louis Rams football players said regarding their protesty-gesturish-display-thing before Sunday's game against Oakland. Yes, yes, you're probably thinking athletes in general are not known for their rhetorical abilities, but neither are the vast majority of people out there (yours truly included). So let's consider this an example of what the average person might think or say:
“I just think there just needs to be a change... There has to be a change that starts with people who are most influential around the world. There are people that have higher voices than us that can speak out and say something about it. No matter what happened on that day, no matter how the whole situation went down, there has to be a change. From whatever happened on both sides, there has to be change. That’s not cool.”
Amen, brother.

No, seriously. I think we can all agree with this man's sentiments. In fact, many other civic and religious leaders are saying the same thing. Change needs to happen. Everyone in the world knows change must occur. My only contention is that the conversation can't end there. If we don't go deeper, "change" is just a word, a fleeting thought, a spoken sound, a series of letters.

I recently discovered a quote from Winston Churchill. You may have heard or read the second part, but the first sentence was new to me:
"There is nothing wrong in change, if it is in the right direction. To improve is to change, so to be perfect is to change often."
In light of the prime minister's words, I contend that what needs to change is not simply hearts and minds, but souls. Yes, human beings have them, and we all need to change them, and quite often. If we don't, we risk losing them eternally.

I may be a little biased, but I think Archbishop Carlson has it right: "[A]s the Church, we know we have the remedy: Jesus - knowing him individually, letting him re-organize our relations with each other."

Therefore, without careful consideration of my potential future political career, I'm going to lay things out very bluntly and explain three steps we can all take to accomplish precisely the sort of change we actually need.

  1. Know your neighbors.
  2. Strengthen your family.
  3. Give Christ His rightful place as King of your heart. 

I know I am one of the worst offenders in the first category, I fall short in the second, and the third is the ultimate goal, but a daily struggle. However, I am now committing myself to taking concrete actions to get to know my neighbors (and I mean my actual neighbors - the people who live in the houses immediately next to mine. If you don't even know your actual neighbors, how can you truthfully claim to "love your neighbor as yourself"?). I am also working with my wife to strengthen our family as a unit through daily prayer, attending Mass frequently, and working together to address all those various "issues" families deal with. As for the final piece, well, my wife and I had the Sacred Heart enthroned in our home, and I try to pray daily the "Suscipe", the prayer of St. Ignatius of Loyola:
Take, O Lord, all my liberty. Receive my memory, my understanding, and my whole will. All that I am, and all that I have, come to me from thy bounty. I give it all back to thee and surrender it to the guidance of your holy will. Give me thy love and thy grace; with these I am rich enough and ask for nothing more.
Lofty words indeed.

Imagine the authentic change we could accomplish if we all actually prayed and lived these words everyday (myself included). We may fight against it. We may not want that kind of change. It may be too difficult. It may be too radical. We may not even be able to handle the change. But it is beyond a doubt the precise kind of change we need.

Will you join me in working for real change?

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