I Wanted To Change The World
When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world.
I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation.
When I found I couldn’t change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn’t change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family.
Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world.
Author: Unknown Monk 1100 A.D.
These are beautiful words which younger generations must heed. For truly, how many of us have begun complaining about how the world works, but never did anything to move towards change?
The unknown monk was right – if we want to change the world, first we must change ourselves. Many of the world’s greatest citizens, from Rumi, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Theresa and even Leo Tolstoy, have all said the same thing in one form or the other. To change one’s self is to begin changing the world. Before we begin discussing the many strategies on how we can change ourselves for the better, I would first like to discuss why we need to change.
For one, human beings are the only species on earth that has the capacity to change their environment consciously. From as early as 70000 B.C.E, when homo sapiens first evolved imagination, we have been altering our surroundings in ways that were not essentially for survival. We painted caves using various pigments so that we may mark the places we have been. We created rituals to bury our dead. We made jewelries and various ornaments so that we may look good.
Now to be fair, a majority of the changes we made were really for our own survival, because compared to other animals, we simply could not compete. We couldn’t outrun a lion, or outswim a shark. We cannot hibernate for months at a time in order to save on water and food. To be able to survive in the highly competitive natural world, we had to use our intellect.
Unlike other animals that relied on nature for their survival, we had the capacity to observe nature and to learn its patterns so that we may be able to produce our own food. We explored natural materials so that we may develop new tools to ensure and multiply our success. We created the wheel to help us transport plants and animals over long distances, which then led to the proliferation of previously endemic flora and fauna to many parts of the world. We developed composite tools to make our jobs of hunting and gathering easier. In the process, we have picked trees bare, and caused the extinction of various mega fauna in many continents of the earth. We have developed language, enabling us to develop stories and myths, so we changed the way we interact with individuals of our own species. These, our species did, without the sophisticated technologies we have today.
From the homo sapiens that wished to survive the challenges of nature, we have emerged as victors over all the animals of the earth. Where animals perished due to lack of water, we humans, built dams. Where animals drowned with the surging of tides, we sailed and crossed seas. We have overcome the challenges of nature with flying colors. From a species that learned to work with nature for survival, we have become THE species that understood the deepest mysteries of nature. And so we come to our present day.
Today, armed with the knowledge of how nature designed itself, we are poised to create our own world. For years, we have been creating new varieties of plants and new breeds of animals so that they may serve our needs. Now, we are in the process of creating our own likeness, in the same way that God, or Nature, has created human kind. Can we now say that we are a successful species for attaining this capacity?
A quick search in the dictionary leads me to an astonishing discovery: despite of all the knowledge we have discovered and the technologies we have developed, we cannot say that our species is successful. For the definition of success is very simple: “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose”. While we have made a brand new world where humans are the kings and queens of all creation, we are no nearer to saying that we know for certain the aim or purpose we are striving towards.
If you say, to make life better for all human kind, well let me tell you, for all our “accomplishments”, life is not better for ALL human kind. In one part of the world, a whole village is hungry. In another, an entire peoples are turned out of their homes. Climate change may cause our entire civilization to become extinct, if wars don’t succeed in doing this first.
If you say, to make life easier for humans, then, let me ask you, why are there more and more people developing stress-related and mental illnesses if life today is easier than thousands of years ago?
If you say, for the sake of understanding our world, then I ask you, why? Why do we need to understand the world, when it has been working the way it was designed before we gained an understanding of our own capacity?
The way the human being was built was that, from the very beginning, we had the capacity to overcome natural design. After all, we have been able to do the impossible – to conquer gravity and stand on our two feet. But we weren’t built to destroy the design, or else we would’ve been developed somewhere else and then simply “planted” on earth. Instead we rose out of millions of years of the earth’s learning. We know through the study of evolution that we are an improved iteration of the various animals of the earth. We may share genes with chimpanzees, but we are nothing like them. We may be able to swim like the fishes, but we were not meant to stay in the water our entire life. In a future article, I shall explore this more, but for the moment, let me just say, we were meant to overcome the natural design because nature needed us, homo sapiens to bring it to a whole new level.
This is where the connection between individual change and changing the world comes to the fore. While it is the individual that needs to change, the reason for such change is the world. We cannot begin to change the world without first changing ourselves, but we must not change ourselves for our own self-satisfaction.
Nature is not a tool we exploit to provide our needs, rather, it is an entity we must converse and negotiate with. In the same way we have learned to understand nature and from it, develop a language so that we may create a new organization for our species, we are, once again, being asked to understand nature’s language, and develop a new organization for the whole of creation. If you choose to embark on this journey of change, you have to be prepared to face the power of nature in order to be worthy in uncovering its message.
Deciphering nature’s language is much easier now, because of science. The difficulty lies in understanding what the real message is. This is where I hope this blog will be most useful.
As you go through the various articles in this blog, it is my hope that you won’t forget this important point: All the scientific strategies for self-improvement we will be discussing in future articles are all geared towards discovering what nature’s real message is for human beings. This we must do collectively. We will do researches on what we already know about nature through scientific discoveries, and we hope that you interact with us so that together, we may all be able to understand THE message. Through this simple effort, we hope to come nearer to discovering the aim and purpose of all our doings and accomplishments, and perhaps, we can finally move our species towards the direction of success.