Wonderfully articulate article about self reliance and solving our own problems instead of naively believing someone's going rescue us.
by Suzanne Matthiessen
"When listening to both candidate - and now President Barack Obama's eloquent, motivating speeches, I've often nodded in agreement to his call to all Americans, despite their political affiliation, to become more accountable, less divisive, more compassionate, less indulgently consumptive, more transparent and less entitled. His call has been my call to all human beings to be more humane toward one another. Everywhere I turn, people rave about how finally we in the United States have a leader who instills hope for the cause of our shared humanity. And while it is beautiful it also puzzles me, for after all, what President Obama talks about is really simple common sense - yet people act as though it's revolutionary new thought. He's merely bringing voice to what most people seem to want, and have wanted, for their entire lives. If so many people have yearned for this to be the way in which we treat one another, why has it never been actualized?
Perhaps it has to do with individual maturity levels, and the fact that adequate numbers of people hadn't grown up enough until now to actually begin to link up personal aspirations for honorable human interaction, coexistence and mutual respect, regardless of our differences, in a tangible, collaborative fashion. Our mucking about like pigs in the pen was contagious enough to keep us from rising up and out of the mud of petty actions, insecurity-based competition, scarcity thinking, and self-oriented behavior, even though we have grown increasingly weary of a "me me me" materialistic-based culture. A tipping point has possibly just begun to be reached. Maybe we have almost matured enough as a larger body of homo sapiens, and combined with the beauty of perfect timing in Earth-related human history and culture; the elements are perfect to tip people forward toward a new possibility of human existence.
Please note I said possibility.
The other dynamic I've observed with many people who are excited about the possibility of more evolved human coexistence President Obama is presenting is that a ton of weight is being placed upon him as the bringer and solidifier of this potentially more enlightened age. Even the now famous image of then candidate Obama in red, white and blue with the word "hope" at the bottom equates him with hope itself. Although he has said repeatedly it is up to the people of the United States to make that vision of hope a concrete reality, many are depending on him to make it all happen. They have Messiah-ized President Obama, and placed the burden upon his shoulders. "Yes we can - but you are the one who will make it happen."
This stance taken by many worries me, because it's the same taken by any group of people who have been waiting to be saved by someone or some thing outside of themselves. It's also the stance taken by those who don't like to get their hands dirty and do the hard work that allows change to take place both on an individual as well as a collective level. It's the same stance taken by those who'd rather take a pill than to work on becoming well and whole by means of positive lifestyle choices. It's the same stance taken by people who feel all they have to do is visualize what they want to automatically show up in their life and don't feel they need to put in the effort to earn it.
I've seen people who get teary when President Obama speaks about doing the right thing, regardless of the human or global arena he is referring to, who, moments later, refuse to take responsibility for their own actions and criticize others for things that they do as well! If people actually believe they have not been part of the multitude of actions and behaviors that have served to divide people and contribute to the many human-created global dilemmas we now face, it will be very difficult to make possible the world President Obama envisions as reality. That is, unless everyone grows up even more - and grows up real fast - to where this collective tipping point can be more than a figment of an idealistic imagination.
So what do I mean when I saw "grow up"? Let me extract from and expand upon a column I wrote for Oracle 20/20 Magazine over three years ago titled "Impeccability." In it I quote teacher A. Hameed Ali, who said, "Choosing to be an impeccable warrior means choosing to be a person, choosing to be a responsible adult, instead of being your mother's baby. There is dignity in it; you are your own person, your life is your responsibility and you always have the choice to do your best. Impeccability can be in action, in feeling, in thinking. Impeccability can be in terms of the will, in terms of the mind, in terms of the heart." Choosing to live with impeccability - which I have described as being different than being perfect - is at the center of becoming a grown up, mature, whole human being, a man or a woman who has left behind indulging in childish games and myopic attitudes, and the damage such behaviors can cause.
Growing up - and being impeccable - is about living a life of mindful, eyes wide open, accountable choice, always aware that none of us is certain how much time we have on this planet, and that every moment, every thought, every communication, every action matters in terms of our own personal evolution in the time we're given in this life - and knowing there is no certainty we will have another incarnation, another chance to "get it right."
Life as a mature human being is one lived where mistakes are readily owned up to and corrections made simply as a code of honorable behavior, as there is no room for egoic defense when fully embracing the path of integrity and honor toward ourselves, our fellow human beings, and the planet we all share.
Grown up human beings - regardless of their chronological age - see that it's unwise to waste energy, which means not wasting time, knowledge, gifts and talents we've been given, nor taking advantage of, or for granted, people and resources. Our inevitable death is a constant and humbling reference point that keeps the ego in check and our maturity in place. Being grown up is about playing big, not small, and is about paying attention and being fully present regarding all that is going on all around us, and not being lazy on any level. It is about not deluding ourselves with the ignorant, narcotic notion that there are choices without consequence, and owning the fact that denial and blame are useless and ultimately rather petty. Being impeccable, mature human beings means not allowing ourselves to be self-involved or self-indulgent and carry on as victims or entitled spoiled brats. It is the framework for a life lived with constantly mindful self-discipline and inner strength, because, as I have stated many times before, it is not enough to have knowledge or good intentions.
Living impeccably means there is no gap between what you project to believe and how you act, as there is no room for hypocrisy whatsoever. It means being a person of your word, and someone that can be counted on to always show up with integrity no matter what the situation.
A way to constantly reality check yourself is to simply ask in any personal challenge or dilemma you face, "If this were my last moment on earth, is this how I would want to behave?" So instead of drowning your stress and sorrows with food, drink, drugs, gambling, reckless spending or one night stands when you need a rush, choose a different response that is reflective of proactive inner strength instead of reactive self-indulgence. When your first response to being cut off in traffic is to scream obscenities, choose to take calm, deep breaths and practice Tonglen. When you think you can pull off a lie because you know you won't get caught, always remember that is the attitude of babies, not people who play big. When you succumb to the blame game instead of taking personal responsibility for your part in any given situation, know this is radically immature behavior. When you find yourself thinking you are special and above others, regardless of their beliefs or life circumstances, get over yourself and do some anonymous selfless service.
Instead of ingesting toxic substances like cigarettes, chemically laden, unhealthy processed "food" or consuming way more than you need, respect your body and treat it accordingly. Wherever you see imbalance or excessiveness in any area of your life, work to bring about equilibrium. Become mindful of how a lack of regard concerning your own physical, emotional and mental well-being shows a lack of regard for your loved ones as well.
When you realize you have hurt others by your actions or words, go make amends and stop living a life you have to defend or apologize for all the time. When you find yourself beating yourself up or indulging in false humility, stop it. When you find yourself trying to seek approval from outside sources for everything you do, work on developing healthy self-worth. If you simply accept what any person or group says without carefully pondering if it is truthful and valid, take time to investigate and own your own mind. If you find yourself primarily thinking about what you want and need all the time, become mindful of the needs of others too. If you find yourself compulsively attracted to getting caught up in cheap, petty dramas, ask yourself what are you getting out of it, and how are you hurting others? When you find yourself making great excuses instead of just owning your own crap, make the leap into maturity.
Choosing to play big and being a grown up is choosing the right thing to do in every moment, even if you think nobody notices. Let the fact there are no guarantees as to how much time you have to wipe out any ridiculous pride or grudges or notions that you are right and they are wrong and "its up to them to make the first move" attitudes you are self-righteously holding on to which will ultimately make you have to live with regret - because all of a sudden it's too late. Instead of bitching and moaning about how awful things are, go out and be the change you wish to see in the world. Don't wait for President Obama or anyone else to do it for you. Own where you haven't quite grown up yet, and get busy playing big. There really is no time to waste being otherwise. "
© Suzanne Matthiessen, innerevolution media and communications. All rights reserved.