I want to believe in the goodness of people. I want to believe in groups working together for justice and toward wholeness. I want to believe that we are better together. I want to believe that we are smarter and more talented when we all work together. I want to believe it because that is the kind of world that I want to live in.
And I have been in those situations: where people come together and do more than they could individually. When they show up for each other and bring their brilliance and passion and where each person builds off of everyone else in the room and solutions are reached that would not have been possible otherwise.
But more often I have been in spaces where one person managed to derail the whole process because they were only in it for themselves and not for the good of other people. Or seeing the world constantly burn because a few people are more interested in amassing as much wealth as possible, everyone else be damned.
Or I have been a part of groups where, left to their own devices, the group vision would be â€œmaintain the status quo at all costsâ€ or â€œuphold these traditions no matter whatâ€. What those groups needed was someone with a bold vision to come along and paint a picture of a new future and then push us all toward living into it together. Otherwise nothing would have happened. The group would have continued on as they always had.
Sometimes the only way that change happens is for a person to be made so uncomfortable that the discomfort of changing hurts less than the discomfort of staying in the same place. And yet, at the same time, people will often put up with a lot (and I mean a lot) of discomfort before they are willing to lean into change. And when weâ€™re talking about global issues (or even country wide issues) that will require a lot of people working together to bring about change, we also see that the people feeling the most discomfort are the ones with the least power to change things.
Look at how staunchly people deny the reality of climate change. Or the growing economic gap between the rich and the poor. And the people who are most loudly denying? Probably the ones who are the most protected from the effects of the change (at least for now).
â€¨The idea that weâ€™re better in groups assumes that the majority of the people in the group wants to be better. That the majority of people in the group is thinking about the good of all and not just about ego and power. That the majority of people in the group wants things to get better for everyone and not just the few people at the top. That the majority of the people in the group is willing to learn and to grow and to change. And what happens when thatâ€™s not the case?
Because right now, as I look at groups like our government, many churches, White people, I donâ€™t see a lot of folks who are willing to change. Who are willing to put the good of the many above the good of themselves. I see a whole lot of people who are willing to do the exact opposite. â€¨â€¨I want to be wrong. I want to believe that we can change. I want to believe that there can be a groundswell movement that is filled with art and beauty and kindness and goodness and care that will so captivate everyone that the tide will turn. In very small moments I actually do believe it. â€¨â€¨But will it be enough? Will it happen fast enough? Will it happen in time for the most vulnerable and the most marginalized? â€¨â€¨I pray that it will.