28. DIZZYING POLITICAL CHANGE
I've been a fan of Bertrand Russell (b. 1870) since my atheist days of the 60’s and 70’s when I found it very reassuring to read; “And if there were a God, I think it very unlikely that He would have such an uneasy vanity as to be offended by those who doubt His existence”
And his words really resonate today in respect of some current political leaders: "The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.”
Today, as I expound on my own Baha’i beliefs, I take comfort in his advice; “Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.”
Popular media has made it possible for new ideas and global collaborations to develop almost instantaneously.
Hence, my simple idea to develop a blog – an idea that occurred barely 2 years ago – has been able to attract 27,000+ readers from around the world. So those who feel despairing of having any beneficial influence should take comfort from the vastly increased potential for real and rapid change in today’s world.
Consider, for example, the present "Me Too" movement which was formed in the aftermath of Mr Trump’s presidential campaign, when a 2005 audio recording of his intimate comments surfaced on the election trail.
It increased to spread virally as a two-word hashtag which was first used on social media in October 2017 to denounce sexual assault and harassment.
In the wake of other sexual misconduct allegations, the "Me Too" hashtag, initially used in this sense by a social activist, then became popularized by an actress who consequently encouraged women to tweet it to publicize their own experiences and to thereby demonstrate the widespread nature of misogynistic behaviour.
Since then, millions of people including many celebrities, have used the hashtag to come forward with their own experiences.
This example, whilst perhaps extreme, should be very comforting for those who recognise the imperative need for change in the world, but who feel paralysed by the apparent impossibility of contributing to that change.
Previously I referred to Baha’u’llah’s comment that the reality of man is his thought, not his material body. It is hard to make enduring physical changes in the world.
Every sustainable outward physical change began with a thought. Therefore it follows that we make real and sustainable change when we change our thoughts.
No one and no thing can change our own thoughts. We are in complete control. This is why the practice of meditation is so important, as it enables us to become consciously of our thought processes.
I wonder what enduring change will be brought about as the result of shaming people into change, as the "Me Too" movement tends to do. If someone's change isn't the outcome of a genuine change in belief and understanding, an individual will only sustain that change for as long as they perceive personal social disapproval.
If the men concerned in those stories are not developing a genuinely enhanced attitude to women by recognising the negative consequence of their behaviour, I doubt their apparent change will endure. But on the other hand, when we truly recognise our shortcomings and increase in our knowledge and values, that becomes expressed in a change in thought, which exerts a real effect, not just on the individual, but on the planet as a whole.
To view this principle on its greatest scale;
“If you desire with all your heart, friendship with every race on earth, your thought, spiritual and positive, will spread; it will become the desire of others, growing stronger and stronger, until it reaches the minds of allmen.” - ‘Abdu’l-Baha