BE the Change

Posted on July 11, 2014

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Of all the quotes I’ve seen in my life, I believe I have seen this quote by Gandhi more than any other.  On murals, in books, a magnet on my refrigerator, and in countless other locations…there seem to be few days that pass that his beautiful words are not present in my life.  Yet, like most things that become commonplace, I never really understood the quote in my own life until last week when, for some reason, I connected with it in a much more powerful and meaningful way. 
The insight came around the word be.  We have talked a great deal in the last several months about the need for change in our society’s mindset around the clients we serve. It is easy at times to get frustrated and overwhelmed due to the difference between this knowledge and the reality our clients too often confront in society.  It is easy, as change agents, to put all our focus on the external; however, Gandhi’s quote challenges us to look inwards.
To “be the change” is not an action we take, but the way we are in the world.  To help others find peace, we first must find it within ourselves.  To help clients heal, we must first heal ourselves.  To create a society based on compassion, empathy, and health, we must encompass these values even when we confront those that disagree with us.  We can have all the science, morality, and financial arguments on our side (which we do!), but if we do not bring these arguments forth with compassion and empathy, our words will be lost.
Since this realization, I have thought a lot about who I need to beas a trainer and change agent to bring about the change I “wish to see in the world.”  In many ways, I have been on this journey for several years, as I struggle to align my life with the material that drives my trainings and to truly live my values every moment of the day.  This has been a long journey with a step back for every two steps forward, and it seems that almost every week I learn something new that I know I need to incorporate into my life.  When I once again came across “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” I realized that be is the journey and not a destination!
To be healers in our modern society, we must pay as much attention to developing ourselves as developing our expertise.  Healing of the mind and body is a combination of providing the right information with an energy that communicates caring, compassion, empathy, and hope.  Caring, compassion, empathy, and hope are not things one can fake or turn on and off. Instead they describe who we are as people and how we are in the world. 
To be change agents, we must also take this energy into our larger communities.  Neuroscience and genetics is giving us the information, but society will not change until people feel our passion and love for those we serve.  We, like our clients, can be easily dismissed because our message goes against long-held beliefs, and challenges people to think about the impact of their own actions in a different light.  We will only be heard when we bring the caring, compassion, empathy, and hope we give to our clients into our advocacy.
One of the founders of quantum physics, Max Plank, once said, “A scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”  His words have rung true as few argue against the power of quantum physics today. 
However, for those of us who care deeply about those in our society who are in pain and are suffering, we know our clients don’t have time to wait for the next generation to come up.  The people we care about need not only the services we provide, but a community that understands and cares about them as people with potential and something amazing to give back to their community.  We have the knowledge, my friends. Our challenge now is to figure out how to be.

I would love to hear your thoughts on Gandhi’s quote.  How does your internal state match the change you want to see in the world, and in the lives of your clients?   

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