Giving Hope to Humanity
01 August 2005
Step Four to Remaking the World
CARTOON CHARACTER Charlie Brown once said, ‘I love humanity. It’s people I can’t stand!’
To give hope to humanity we may just need to find a love for people. Take a leaf out of St Theresa of Avila’s book. She once prayed, ‘Oh God I do not love you. I do not want to love you. Help me to want to want to love you!’ I have definitely been in this situation. ‘Oh God, I don’t love people. I’m not even sure I want to love people. It’s a lot of work and I am happy as I am. I don’t really want to be bothered. Help me to want to want to love people.’ I can recommend this prayer for all sorts of issues.
Talking of saints—Theresa not me—they were all known more for their passion than their successes or failures. The greatest threat to the world is indifference. The greatest hope lies in our making a difference. Peter Howard, the English author, once appealed to the congregation of Martin Luther King Jr’s church, ‘I do not say be patient, I say be passionate...’
Rajmohan Gandhi, author and grandson of the Mahatma, once challenged a crowd of young Indians: ‘I do not wish to insult the youth of this generation by assuming that they do not want to sacrifice.’ Passion, sacrifice, we are capable of both.
So it is time to leave home. In the previous four articles we have embraced our calling to remake the world, and opened our hearts to the possibility of personal and social transformation starting with ourselves. We now enter every encounter with the anticipation of engaging the other person in this process while becoming more deeply engaged ourselves. We have started to create a team who are working on finding answers to their communities’ needs.
Now it is time to take it to the world. Put it to music, sing it, dance it, write about it. Sometimes the world may be the other side of town, the home of someone from another culture. Sometimes it means travelling the globe. And while there is power in a team, ‘if no-one responds to your call, walk alone’, as Rabindranath Tagore, Indian poet and philosopher, once said.
Above all, live it. Hope can be given to a dehumanized humanity while we cook, fix a tap, even pay a bill.
And be strategic. Be led. This is one gift of inner listening—clear directions can be received from the Creator in the silence of our hearts.
After 12 years of civil war, a group of Muslim and Christian Lebanese have worked through their antagonisms and bitter memories to a point where they can express publicly their shame and pain and subsequent forgiveness and healing. They are now working to bring different communities together in their country. A rare currency and much in demand in a hope-deprived world: invitations to share their story have come from Australia, Europe and the USA.
News of a grassroots clean election campaign in Kenya, through widespread public commitments to honesty and rejections of corruption, was shared at a conference in Australia. This triggered a conviction in Solomon Islanders to start the same campaign in their country, just coming out of a protracted violent struggle.
With a world of crisis, exploitation and shameful poverty, our great hope, perhaps only hope, is the fact that people can change, and that there is a source of power and inspiration available to help it happen. The four dimensions we have looked at through these pages in recent months can best be integrated into a whole (see graphic), all happening together at any one time.
Remaking the world is probably not your regular mealtime conversation, but it may be the most important conversation you will ever have (with or without a meal).
As Reinhold Niebuhr wrote:
Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope.
Nothing, which is true or beautiful or good, makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith.
Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we must be saved by love.
No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our own standpoint.
Therefore we must be saved by the final act of love, which is forgiveness.
This article is the last of Jean Brown’s five-part guide to remaking the world. The other four are available on this website under ‘Reflections’