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Topic: Changing the world, by starting with yourself?

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Subject: Changing the world, by starting with yourself?
Date Posted: 8/4/2008 10:47 PM ET
Member Since: 3/31/2006
Posts: 28,538
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This is an off shoot of the compassion conversation in the other thread.  One of the beliefs of the Dalai Lama, Gandhi, and others, is that your actions create energy that spreads within the world.  In the compassion theory, if you practice compassion in your daily life, that energy will grow, and spread to the general population.  Gandhi had a philosophy that if you want to change the world you start with your own corner.

How do people feel about that concept?  If you clean up your neighborhood, can you set an example that will then spread and others will join you or start cleaning up their own?  Can you practice being honorable, kind hearted, compassionate, considerate, etc. in your daily life, and that practice can somehow affect the world by putting out positive energy?   Is it plausible? 

How do you all feel about that?

Date Posted: 8/5/2008 9:10 PM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2005
Posts: 5,091
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What other way is there to do it? 

I'm not being rhetorical here, I really mean it.  If you want people to be kind and compassionate, how can hope to achieve that if you aren't?  If you want a cleaner environment, how do you hope to accomplish it if you don't start by being kinder to the environment yourself?

Even if you don't believe the metaphysical effects will really happen - that by being compassionate yourself you will add to the "compassionate energy" of the world - perhaps your compassion will inspire someone else to be compassionate.

Edited to delete a long discussion of political partisanship that probably belongs elsewhere.

Last Edited on: 8/5/08 9:11 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/5/2008 10:52 PM ET
Member Since: 3/31/2006
Posts: 28,538
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Kari, I don't know what other way there might be.  LOL  I think only by "leading by example" can you get others to join you even if it is something like being a little kinder.

I guess the thing is that by creating small change you affect the bigger picture.  You don't have to think "I will never end litter."  But, if you decide to clean up all the litter in front of your house, you've cleaned up one spot.  Maybe your neighbor will see that and they start to keep their gutter clean, and so forth.  It could have a domino affect.  In some ways, you can then see how a community and then society decides as a whole no longer believes that littering is acceptable behavior.

Can that also work with something like kindness, compassion, etc where it's not so visible or easily measured?


Date Posted: 8/5/2008 10:53 PM ET
Member Since: 3/31/2006
Posts: 28,538
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Last night I saw the movie Boycott about the Montgomery Alabama Bus Boycott.  MLK Jr. said something like "we will not react to hate with hate or violence.  We will react with love." (He said it alot better than that) It's sort of the same idea.  You aren't going to change the whole world all at once, but you might be able to change one person at a time.

Date Posted: 8/5/2008 10:55 PM ET
Member Since: 8/12/2007
Posts: 129
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I don't know if "doing right" will make big changes in the rest of the world, but it will certainly help make YOUR life happier.  :-)  And I agree it's the only way that one can make a change.

Again, not easy to do, but worth striving toward.

Subject: Change the world, by starting with yourself
Date Posted: 10/2/2008 11:35 PM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2008
Posts: 2
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Definitely you can change the world by changing yourself.  Just as the world effects you, so can you effect it.   Such is the way of Karma.  The positive energy you put out inspires this energy in others. 

Acts of compassion, kindness, selflessness regardless of whether you receive anything for them change the general energy of the universe.  This is the beauty of the message of the the Dalai Lama & Gandhi.  The strong who absorb the frustration, hatred, fear, and unhappiness and transfer it through small acts of personal strength; change the immediate world around them.  Most wonderfully, such people, do it with no regard for return.  Yet, the universe always returns to them. 

But I think what the books have taught me, the trick is to know when you are strong enough to affect the change that you want at the time that you want. 


Date Posted: 10/9/2008 11:25 PM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2006
Posts: 2,303
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I do not know about the "positive energy" theories. I do know (at least somewhat) the power of example.

In Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire" Rafe Esquith says of the example of teachers: "You are a role model. Never forget that the kids watch you constantly. They model themselves after you, and you have to be the person you want them to be. I wany my students to be nice and to work hard. That means I had better be the nicest and hardest-working person they have ever met." (p. 10) He then introduces Lawrence Kohlberg's "Six Levels of Moral Development"--which basically offer an explanation of why people do what they do. At the lowest level is 1- "I don't want to get in trouble". Sometime I operate at this level. I believe many adults still do. Next come: 2- "I want a reward", 3- "I want to please somebody", 4- "I follow the rules", and 5- "I am considerate of other people".

Rafe says, "Just imagine a world of Level V thinkers. We'd never atain have to listen to the idiot on the bus barking into his cell hone. No one would cut us off when we're driving or in line for a movie. Noisy neighbors would never disturb our sleep in a hotel at 2:00 a.m. What a wonderful world it would be, indeed." (p. 20)

but... there is still Level VI: "I have a personal code of behavior and I follow it".

"Level VI behavior is the most difficult to attain and just as difficult to teach. This is because a personal code of behavior resides with in the soul of an individual. It also includes a healthy dose of humility... Level VI behavior cannot be taught by saying, 'Look at what I'm doing. This is how you should behave.' In a way, it is like a catch-22". (p. 22)

Power of example:
I see my neighbors working hard on their yards and landscaping. The outside of their houses looks good. Our neighborhood looks better. I want the outside of my house to look better. I decide to work on my yard (or hire someone to help/do it for me.) Nobody said to me, "Can't you clean up your eye-sore of a yard?!"

I hear my daughter talking with her (my!) relatives on the phone. She knows what's going on in their lives, what prayers to offer in their behalf, what little gifts or cards to send them. She knows what they think and how they feel and what they do. I want to feel closer and more connected to my family. I decide to make it a higher priority to call them occasionally.

I like playing on the computer: surfing websites, talking in chats and forums, playing computer games. I take frequent "breaks" or even hours from all the alternatives I could choose to be spending time on. My son graduates from high school, gets a new laptop, has a mostly part-time job... should it surprise me that he chooses to spend a lot of his time in his room -- chatting and playing games online?

I notice that my friend is always kind and thoughtful and positive toward others. I wish I were more that way. I start to think "what would Sunny say".

If I am watching others and modeling myself on them, if my son models my behavior, how can I doubt that other people may be modeling themselves on me. It is not just kids who are watching, though I think they do it best. I would rather add to the light in the world than add darkness to anyone's day.



Last Edited on: 10/10/08 12:46 PM ET - Total times edited: 1