Saturday, November 7, 2009

Turn My World Around

Lately I've been having cravings for the old music. You know, the songs you used to listen to when you were a teenager, the ones you recorded onto countless mix tapes - yes, tapes (google it, those of you under 20.) Granted, my cravings for the old music aren't as strong as my cravings for, say, peanut butter or good beer, but they do occur quite frequently. When I hear "Hand In My Pocket" or "Ironic" I think back to driving around the streets of London with Ken, listening to Uncle Joey's ex at high volumes.

Cut. It. Out!

But for the most part lately, I've been finding myself wanting to listen to the old Christian stuff. Bands like Whitecross, Petra, DeGarmo & Key. Now, I must say that there is a lot of it that I can't listen to because of how highly infused it is with evangelical theology. One such song is DeGarmo & Key's "Boycott Hell," an anthem which includes lyrics such as "Don't let a neighbour go, form a holy picket line. We gotta let them know, don't you think it's time, to boycott Hell." I even had a t-shirt with the song title plastered in big red letters on the front. During my latest craving, however, I got to listening to Kenny Marks, another Christian rock singer. After a quick iTunes search I came across "Turn My World Around," a song that isn't as overtly religious, until the last verse. The beginning of the song goes like this:

"City by city, town by town, side by side
Gonna tear the walls down.
Minute by minute, heart by heart, hand in hand, you know it's time to start

I'm gonna turn my world around
Gonna lift up every head and every heart in this town
Turn my world around

Step by step, street by street, soul by soul,
Everyone that I meet.
Face by face, night by night, smile by smile
I'm gonna change this whole world tonight."

Listening to this song and others like it, the old feelings of zeal and passion come up as they did 15 years ago when I was listening to it the first time. Now the inference in this song, one that becomes clearer in the third verse with lyrics like "I'm gonna wrap my arms around this lost and dying world" is that the way you turn the world around is by telling people of your religious faith. But even if it wasn't about religion, if it was just about making the world a better place and changing circumstances for people, would the ideas be helpful?

*And so concludes the religious component of this article, and a polite request for an absence of debate on the topic; it's exhausting*

My main point is that it is not our job - not my job - to change anybody. No one. Anywhere.

Each person who has ever lived has had their own answers, whether they've been able to see that or not. While all of us are connected, probably much more than we know, each of us has our life to live out, and we each do that in our own unique way. But our tendency can be to view things quite differently.

Once we find our truth, or perhaps more accurately once it rises up in ourselves to the point of us being conscious of it, we suspect that this must be the way it is for those around us. It may have to do with the activities we take part in, the books we read, the way we eat, the beliefs that we believe. But I think that sometimes we can assume that the things that make our lives fulfilling will naturally fulfill others.

Not the case.

First of all, who am I to know what would help another person grow into themselves more fully? There's a dose of arrogance in that thinking, the one that presumes that "I have the answers that will help you." Perhaps one reason why we sometimes think this way is because it massages our ego with some sense of power and control over other people, even if it's not something we're consciously aware of.

In reality, my formula of reading inspirational books and Enya could well induce a near catatonic state for someone else. While I may not understand it, role-playing games, poker, or watching Heroes may enrich anothers life. I don't understand these things, but that's alright.

It's not our job to change anyone. Indeed, there may be a subtle violence in play when we do try to change someone to be different than they are.
As hard as it is, we - I - must give up our need to be right and to have all the answers. Our job is not to change or fix anyone. Our job is to love.

Period.

Love doesn't necessarily mean "doing" anything. It can often include actions, like giving flowers to someone or sending them a card, but maybe it's more about "being" than doing, especially if our idea of doing is to make it all better for someone or fix what's wrong. After all, is that what we want? For someone to fix things or make everything better? Or would we rather just know that someone is there, that they are present with us no matter where we are or what kind of day we're having.

In this way, maybe love is more about presence and being there, rather than necessarily about changing anything.