Happy 4th, everyone! I love seeing all of the red, white and blue decor and people carrying gigantic coolers for cookouts or trips to the beach. When I was young, we had big family picnics, I remember making watermelon balls with various sized scoops, watermelons all had seeds back then, so, it wasn't as simple as it is today!
One thing I have been sort of meditating on over the past few days is how easy it is to think that a place will change us. I recently read a bit of an article written by someone who had moved to Japan. He wrote about how much better it is there, because they don't have as much of the "serve me" attitude we have here in the US. This is a valid point, I was fortunate to have spent quite a bit of time in Japan during my late teens and early 20's and there were definitely things I loved about it. I have a vivid memory of standing on a street corner in Osaka, just me and a Japanese business man, waiting for the light to change. It was an awkward bit of silence, standing for what felt like a very long time, and I remember thinking, "We are way more alike than different". "How can two eyes, two ears and a mouth create so many different faces" my mom says, she is right, incredible. We are miracles, every single one of us. But, the greener grass is not always reality. I was always happy to travel back home to where my family and friends were.
Wherever we go, we take ourselves with us. New scenery might change us for a few months, or maybe even a few years, but, eventually, old habits will come back. Humans don't change unless we do the deliberate work needed to change us. It is a mistake to blame a society, country or other person for all of our problems. We have to dig into ourselves, our characters, fears, failures and successes in order to figure out the why's behind them and either continue with the things that are working, or fix the things that aren't. If we spend our time poking and pointing at all the things around us that are not going the way we think they should, or the people who don't do what we think they should, or the groups that seem to oppose our ideals, or rules that don't jive with our principles, we will probably not feel a whole lot of success, or healing or growth, instead, we will constantly experience anger, hate and frustration. What good will that bring?
Growth and change happens inside each individual person. It isn't quick, it takes grit and work and desire to change. I can get my feelings hurt easily, I want to change that, so, I have to dig into why this happens, pay attention to the when's and why's and how's and deal with them. Slowly, I will see change. Finding a small group, or a few trusted relationships to help will move the process along, but, the work has to be done by me. Am I treating the people around me the way I should, can I express love and gratitude more, do people know that I value them, am I helping people find growth or success? I have plenty of my own work to keep me busy.
In my home country, the United States, we have been given abundance, and the ability to pursue our dreams and desires, we can start a band, write a song, go to a library and read books, go for a walk outside, get married, have children, choose a religion, go to work, choose from a million different boxes of cereal or types of paper towels, between earth friendly cleaning products or chemicals, we can buy organic foods, or not, we can choose between at least twenty varieties of apples! Recently, I drove through an intersection that had a mosque on one corner, a synagogue on another and a Christian church on another, it was incredible. There is a lot of good around us. This is not to minimize the many problems we have as a country, the many things that need fixing, I thank people with good intentions working on possible solutions and I pray for great minds to be able to implement the best solutions, but I also hope and pray to be grateful for this incredible place I get to live in. Happy 4th of July!