Change HappensPosted: March 31, 2014 | |
Maya Angelou closed the Kwanzaa documentary with those words. I have no idea if they were written for her or if they were original, but I do know that watching TV documentaries is fascinating – especially the historicals when you’ve lived through those times.
I remember when Kwanzaa was invented (1966), or at least I remember when it became well enough known to attract the attention of white liberals. It seemed, at first, like one more example of a rising interest in African culture. I had no idea that it would become a nationally known week of celebration of the spiritual values that made an ethnic group great.
I didn’t imagine we would routinely celebrate Kwanzaa rituals in the church I founded. Of course, in those days, I couldn’t imagine founding a church. Some things look inevitable in hindsight, but they were impossible to imagine as you headed into an unknown future.
If you learn much about history from TV documentaries, you see that all constructive change movements represent the opening minds of many people. It’s not a movement if it’s only you and a couple of friends. There is an old joke about the important guy with megaphone trotting beside the parade shouting, “Slow down so I can lead you!”
History is like that. An event happens – Rosa Parks says she won’t move to the back of the bus and history happens. Cassius Clay says he won’t go to war and history happens. Betty Friedan writes a book and history happens. Or so they say.
The truth is that history only happens when a critical mass is ready to ignite. There was a whole lot of preparation for the Montgomery bus strike. Many young men and women were against the draft and Vietnam war. Many young people decided they wanted to change from “slave names” to African ones. Many women loved Friedan’s book and untied their apron strings and burned their bras.
It takes more than an isolated event. Constructive change needs to attract a crowd. There are many ways to prepare people for taking steps forward.
We reach consensus by talking in small and large groups, in classrooms and through media. Popular culture prepares people to change. That is why dictators hate open discussions and free press.
Totalitarian leaders seem to need to close schools, shut down the press, squash artists and burn books as quickly as possible. If you want to build and preserve a dictatorship you must stop conversation about change as efficiently as possible.
We live in a nation committed to freedom and we are currently experiencing a strong resistance to change. When we look at how Congress is paralyzed, we see the messy side of democracy. We despair of our ability to change in the direction of equality and justice for all but it will happen.
Education and the arts are important if constructive change is to thrive. When looking backward the power of the arts is clear. Billie Holiday singing Strange Fruit did more to awaken the conscience of the nation than any one thing. Right now, millions are singing the Peace Song every Sunday morning. That song will accomplish as much as a treaty.
Just signing an agreement doesn’t make change happen. Slaves were emancipated over 150 years ago but some people are still working in appalling conditions. Women have had the vote since 1920 but we still get less pay. Someone could write a book called Aunt Tommi’s Cabin and show the poverty of single mothers for the heartbreaker it is.
In this modern age, I suspect that TV documentaries are best for promoting constructive change. God bless PBS. News stories also change minds.
Certainly, the civil rights movement owes a lot to news reporting. It was ordinary people who linked arms and sang as they overcame fear and violence and marched into the 1960’s. It was ordinary reporters who covered those marches.
When I look at the past, I am encouraged but things never move fast enough to suit me. It’s not enough to have a black president although it is a beginning. There is so much to be done it makes me want to jump on my soapbox.
We need major reforms in education, immigration, health, prisons, and money equality. We need to elect more women to public office. There is more but we need to tackle this now.
I am optimistic about change because so much has been achieved in my lifetime, especially for middle class blacks and young women. These changes tend to mask the number of older women and single mothers who are trapped in poverty. It also masks the appalling unemployment rate among black men.
I’m not doing much but watching documentaries at this point but it’s fascinating to compare TV history to my own personal movie. As I look back at my life, I’m grateful that I was as outspoken and on the side of the angels as I was.
I’m also moved to write an occasional social action piece on my blog. I continue to send money to causes and write letters to politicians. These are two possibilities for anyone who wants to help make constructive change.
My spiritual choices are the most important thing I do. My New Thought religion doesn’t tell me how to vote or what to say, but every time I say, “There is a Power for Good greater than I am and I can use it,” I am empowered. You are also.
I believe that spiritual beliefs based on Science of Mind can unlock many constructive changes in individual lives and also make a big difference in our common culture. Think about it. When we locate God in the present, living within each person, we’ve declared independence.
The mere idea that God is the Creative Power of the Universe and not an old white guy in the sky shifts the power base. We become spiritual revolutionaries.
Once we accept that everyone is a spiritual being with equal access to God, we are denying that anyone is more important than any other. That is radical thinking!
I believe we are living in a time of spiritual liberation or revolution. When you learn you can take charge of your life by changing your thinking, you stop looking to outside authority . We are making a great shift in our belief about where the power lives. What used to be “the best kept secret” is becoming a common idea.
I’ve seen it coming for a while. When people started quoting Oprah instead of ministers or priests, I knew we were enjoying a great sea change. The fact that she is a black woman is a harbinger of change.
Like all great movements, it’s complicated and will take time. There will be resistance but the ruling hierarchy is in big, big trouble.
I am not impatient because I have a dream. I dream I’m one of a gathering crowd of spiritual revolutionaries who know we have a God-given right to Love, Light, Prosperity, and Wisdom. We are claiming our Divine Inheritance as we practice the principles of Love and Light. We are spiritual leaders riding the waves toward life-changing acceptance of Spiritual Truth.
How have I changed?
How do I want to change?
Do I need to release fear or doubt about change?
Am I ready to change any behavior now?