american society, big ideas, personal

Changing the World with Ideas

I was raised Catholic. And, for a time, I convinced myself that I was a saint. Not just any saint, I went further than that. I convinced myself that I was the Christian Messiah. I was the second-coming of Christ. To the extent that I understood such things as the immaculate conception and virgin-birth, they didn’t matter. I was Jesus Christ.

And while my messianic tendencies have declined since I was in the first grade, they are not dead. Though I’m no longer a Catholic, I still think, from time to time, that I’m rather saintly.

Perhaps we could blame my ephemeral convictions of my own importance on how children are raised “today.” The way they tend to be praised more and scolded less. Loved more, encouraged more, impressive more.

Please don’t take me as someone convinced that children are soft these days. Though I don’t disagree that I had it far better than my grandparents, I don’t think they would want me to go through all they did.

They, like most, realize that to the extent that society has made us soft, it’s also given us more comfort and time. And whether we use it for good or bad, this is a nice state of affairs.

But if I may, I’d go back to the Jesus thing. Though I’m no longer convinced of my religious significance, I still think that I can and should do something for the world.

But where two years ago I was convinced that I could fix it all, the whole world, by myself; and where one year ago I was convinced the world was hopeless and I couldn’t save it; I know recognize that no one, no one, can change the world alone.

At the risk of angering some, I would argue that Jesus certainly didn’t change the world by himself. To the extent that his teachings came to matter, it was through the concerted effort of his early followers, and later, Roman and then Church bureaucrats.

But he did offer the world something. He offered ideas that have had positive impacts in human lives for hundred of years. I’m not arguing in favor of Christianity, but rather in favor of ideas. Any idea that resonates with people and forces them out of their own little world.

I believe that ideas have transformative effects far beyond any single person.

Ghandi didn’t end British control in India. Martin Luther King, Jr. didn’t end segregation. But the force of their ideas and the courage of their convictions turned the tide. Helped to push others to ask themselves about their thoughts, their beliefs. What was right, what was wrong.

I still don’t know if I can save the world. Or if I can change even the smallest bit. But I believe that if I do, it will have to be through ideas.

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3 thoughts on “Changing the World with Ideas

  1. John says:

    > He [Jesus] offered ideas that have had positive
    > impacts in human lives for hundred of years.

    He also offered ideas that have had tremendous negative impact. Don’t read the Bible selectively.

  2. Though I could make the point that the things Jesus said are different than everything in the Bible, I’ll skip that.

    The point is that I’m not arguing that Christianity/Jesus/the Bible are perfect or have been only good. But to the extent that they’ve had an impact (either good or bad), it’s primarily because of the ideas.

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