Late nights with college friends, long flights with aircrew over the ocean, discussions at family gatherings, social parties, and poker games…it seems that I have discussed “how things should be” with thousands of people. I have heard countless opinions on how the world “should be.” I certainly have a few of my own. We can ironically refer to these conversations as “solving world hunger.” Dialogue below:
- Questioner: “What did you do last night?”
- Me: “We solved world hunger.” (Translation; We talked, talked, talked, about all of the things we think we could fix about the world, and basically accomplished nothing…but it was fun.)
So often, I reach for the moon and stars with my mind, thinking I can have an effect. I get frustrated at the entire world around me, and how messed up it seems at times. I want to fix it. If I were king of the world, I certainly could. In the end, all this thought and talk about “solving world hunger” is just talk. It has very little impact.
“If I were the king of the world, I tell you what I’d do. I’d throw away the cars and the bars, and the war, and make sweet love to you”–Three Dog Night from “Joy to the World”
You probably won’t solve world hunger.
So then how do I make an impact, after I am ready to serve? Well, this is where I start contemplating “we.” By “we,” what do I mean? Well, let me start a list of people I think of as “we”:
- My spouse or beloved
- My children
- My extended family (Parents, Brothers and Sisters)
- Neighbors (on my street)
- Close Friends
Certainly, I should not continually and focus on me alone. However, when I am ready to serve, it certainly should begin with those closest to me. The philosopher has to determine who the “we” are (or is). Above I have listed my “we.” Some people think that every human, plant, and animal in the world is their “we.” More power to them. I claim that they have overextended their efforts. I propose that they have minimized their impact by trying to control what they cannot, and by diverting their precious resources away from what they can control. The closer the radius, the greater likelihood that there is control.
I will end this entry, with one simple exercise that you can practice in your interactions with your “we.” For one day (or one week if you dare), maintain your patience with your spouse/significant other and/or your children. When you feel impatience with them setting in, take some breaths and realize that they are not yours, that they are independent of you. Then, really listen to them! Their actions are completely out of your control, but your REACTIONS to them are completely in your control.
Try really listening to your loved ones.
Good luck! You know the exercise won’t be easy. Please let me know how it went.