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Close to Home | Why do we need to master ourselves?

For so long now, we have been clamoring for change and we have been frustrated over and over again because politicians promise us change but fail so very often. Many of us are resigned to the thought that there is nothing much we can do so we give up our power. With so many issues that abound and we see people in power who seem to only cater to their own personal interests, it is almost natural that no longer believe in the change that we have been hoping for. And we resort to blaming others for not doing their part. But what about our part?

Since the advent of the Industrial Revolution, people grouped as one and revolt to replace the system that they feel was oppressive to them. All over the world, there were wars during that time. In our case as a nation, we went through countless uprising and staged a major revolution in 1896. An uprising in 1986 was still a manifestation of this longing for change. But why do we seem to be still in the same rut if not worse off than we once were?

In retrospect, I can boldly say that we have been failing as a nation because all along we have been wanting change but we have always acted as victims. Long we have been waiting for that knight in shining armor while we wallow over being the damsels in distress. Various mass movements, while pushing for change are ridden with corruption. Even religious institutions have not been spared from it.

However, for decades, the view of change is now starting to shift. Well, Mother Theresa, Mahatma Gandhi, and even Gat Andres Bonifacio, had been pointing a path for us. The inward path. Gat Andres had called for “Maglinis ng loob,” by loob, he meant not merely the internal organization of Kataas-taasang, Kagalang-galangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan, but of the inner self. Only to be killed by someone who believes that there is no more time for that inner work because the enemy is close at hand. Mahatma Gandhi had advised, “You must be the change that you want to see in the world,” and successfully ended the salt monopoly of Great Britain over India before he was killed. Mother Theresa has also said, “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.”

The three heroes that I am mentioning here know something very well. Two of them were killed because of the potency of their message. Simply put, they are calling that if we want to change the world, we need to change ourselves first. We are the ones decisive of the change. In a simple gesture, like following traffic rules or not engaging in gossips, or throwing your garbage properly and following segregation schemes, and even changing the way we treat our children; we effect change slowly. Imagine if everybody does these little things, how great the impact would be!

But the one to do it first must be the one who believes in it. We cannot throw away our power to do the right thing just because others have given up on it. We cannot treat our children hurtfully just because we have been raised in such a manner. Similarly, we cannot just stop believing in God just because others fail to live up to His ideals. It is not even about perfection or being better than others. It’s always our striving that matters. It is always in not giving up even when all the signs show failure. Maybe, with the Divine Grace, those who see us, especially the children, who follow by example, will follow suit.

Yes, over the centuries and decades, the call for change has revealed a deeper meaning: that if we want to change the world, we change ourselves first. The Mission Courage Worskhop has been putting forward that if we go to the world bearing our old, unproductive habits, with our old destructive ways of thinking, we won’t help in solving the problems of the world. Worse, we might even add unconsciously to it. But if we work on ourselves and strive to heal consciously, then it becomes highly possible for us to become part of the world solution.

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