It’s tempting to wonder whether the world has gone mad. Although history holds many gloomy, erratic, and downright inhumane secrets, when faced with Church scandal, government shutdowns, and people arrested for “misgendering” someone, it’s all too easy to slip into despondency. Confidence in very core components of society has been tested: that the Church is filled with good shepherds, that the government is working for the good of her citizens, that a man is a man. What now? Where do we go from here?
Perhaps, as Mother Theresa urged, we go home.
“If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.”
The Church, the government, leaders of our cities and authors of public policy—these institutions and people are us. We are the building blocks. You are the building block.
Saint John Paul II famously cautioned, “As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live.” And let’s face it, a good hard look at our own selves rarely reveals enlightened (in the biblical sense), disciplined, saintly beings interacting with our loved ones in consistently saintly ways. When we see a society that does not match our sensibilities, it is all the more important to set the course of our own lives prayerfully, humbly, and determinedly against the grain, which these days may merely mean truthfully and with civility.
This adventurous assertion in action is actually incredibly quiet and simple. There are the columnists, civil servants, and leaders among us for whom this task is quite intense and public, but for the vast majority of us, changing the world through changing oneself is truly one hidden sacrificial step after another. I may be so bold as to claim that these simple acts can take more effort and engagement than all the speeches and legislation in a lifetime.
To do is always harder than to say. We can think and speak all we want on the course of our nation, our society, our Church, but what can we do to affect change?
We can love our families. We can change ourselves. We can go back to the basics.
Focus on Your Surroundings
When you feel the government has lost touch with her constituents, stop at a lemonade stand. Keep in touch with her constituents yourself.
When you feel the Church has failed you, go to Mass.
When you feel far from your spouse, your child, your friend, unsure of how to build back to a place of peace and connection, care about his day. Ask him how it went. Listen to the answer.
When you feel far from God, uncomfortable in his presence and unsure of what to say, pray an Our Father. Once, twice, twelve times a day.
When you feel lethargic, unhealthy, overweight, undernourished, overtired and far from the best version of yourself, go to bed. Get more sleep. Have oatmeal for breakfast.
Exodus 90, marriage retreats, Whole 30: these are wonderful opportunities for growth and health in our spiritual, relational and physical lives, but sustainable, healing steps are readily available to us this very minute in our own homes. Available, simple, but by no means easy.
It is difficult to reroute our day to include the needs of another, yet that is what family life demands. It is hard to replace “me” time once the kids are in bed with more sleep, yet to tame many parenting pitfalls that extra hour of sleep is paramount. It is challenging to listen through the details of a day we have little interest in, yet familiarity breeds connection and natural concern.
Focus on the family. Talk to God. Go to bed. Let’s change our world.