Perspective: Maybe we shouldn't try to change the world
As a young teacher I was so committed to changing the world, I assigned, Writing to Change the World by Mary Pipher as my students’ reading. I had bought into the myth I could show my students how to make the world a better place with their writing.
We can’t change a spouse, a friend or even ourselves, so what made me think my students and I could make a difference? Yet I have tried to fix people because I know exactly how their lives could improve. My advice pops out before I can stop it. What makes me think I know better?
But if I offered a listening presence, perhaps that kindness would echo through my friend to others and her eyes wouldn’t flash with resentment.
Now I’m not so sure it’s wise to set out to change the world. Psychologists tell us we can’t change a spouse or a friend. Why should that be any different for the world around us? Why can’t we love the world as it is? Maybe we should merely listen and listen well.
Orthodox priest. Stephen Freeman in his essay, “You Barely Make a Difference and it’s a Good Thing,” says, “Feeding, clothing, visiting, etc., are very homely practices (Matt. 25)…They are all immediately at hand. The better world and making a difference is a conversation we should refuse to engage: it does not belong to us. Speak the truth. Keep the commandments. Let God make all the difference in the world.”
I’m Katie Andraski, and that’s my perspective.