Landschlacht, Switzerland, 14 March 2017
Pick up a newspaper.
Read a book.
Explore the Internet.
And the thinking man is left with one conclusion…
There is much that is wrong in the world: disease, division, war, terror, discrimination, denied opportunities, environmental degradation and pollution, a scarcity of water, unequal distribution of resources, hunger and starvation, a lack of education, corruption and bad governance, the abuse of human rights including slavery and torture, global warming – the list seems endless.
So, where to begin?
Be the change you desire.
“I said, ‘Somebody should do something about that.’.
Then I realised…I am somebody.”(Lily Tomlin)
“Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)
You only need one thing to start making a difference in the world: passion.
Passion gives you the bravery to stand up and start speaking out.
Passion will keep you going, despite insults and threats and the passage of time and the responses received.
There is much about the 1998 film The Mask of Zorro I like: sword fighting, romance, action, love, loyalty, the triumph of good against evil, superb acting performances, a gripping plot, magnificient scenery, exciting music, humourous moments….
In short, it was a film that deserved its financial and critical success.
But for me there is a scene that stands out…
Don Diego De La Vega (aka Zorro) had been unmasked, his wife killed, his home destroyed, his daughter taken and his freedom denied by the departing corrupt governor Don Rafael Montero.
Twenty years later, Montero returns as a civilian determined to regain power and De La Vega escapes from prison.
De La Vega enconters a thief, Alejandro Murrieta, and agrees to groom Murrieta to become the new Zorro.
De La Vega needs to discover Montero’s plans so he convinces Murrieta to pose as a visiting nobleman named Don Alejandro del Castillo y Garcia while attending a party at Montero’s hacienda.
Don Alejandro tells Montero that the reason he is visiting him is that he had heard that Montero was a man of vision.
Montero asks Don Alejandro if he is also a man of vision.
Alejandro responds with:
“I am a man in search of a vision.”
Without a vision, without passion, change will not happen.
What are the issues you feel passionately about?
What really (pardon the vulgarity that follows) pisses you off?
What do you want to change?
Find something YOU wholeheartedly believe in.
The great changes that have happened in the world were accomplished by individuals of passion, whether these changes were negative or positive.
Names are easy to recall.
Pick up a newspaper, read a book, explore the Internet and you will notice that the one binding theme of the individuals spearheading the changes is passion, regardless of the endeavour, regardless of the person’s other attributes, regardless if the cause is just or morally reprehensible.
The most evil of men achieved their infamous accomplishments because they were passionate about what they believed.
The most remarkable of men who have made great positive social and political changes were men possessed of passion.
History is filled with countless examples of this principle of passion: revolutionary leaders, dictators, philosophers, writers, political leaders, scientists, inventors, financial moguls…from George Washington to Che Guevara; from Alexander of Macedonia, Napoleon of Ajaccio, Adolf of Austria to more modern examples of Gaddafi, Kim, Putin and Xi; from Moses to Muhammad, from Buddha to Jesus and others who spoke of the divine that lies beyond our mortal understanding; from Marx to Proust, from Hemingway to Hesse, from Gandhi to Mandela, from Curie to Edison to Steve Jobs, from the first founders of financial empires to the modern entrepreneurs – the changes they wrought, for evil or for good, would never have happened had they not been men and women of passion.
Let’s look at the most blatant example of this passion dominating the headlines of the moment.
Trump won the US election, not because he was better qualified, not because he was more moral or talented.
Those who chose him as President did so for he had more passion (or at least, bluster) than his chief competitor Hillary Clinton.
For though Hillary was better qualified, somewhat more moral, certainly as talented as the Donald in clawing her way to the top, I believe she lost because she forgot the cardinal rule:
Facts and figures impress, but it is passion that persuades.
Had the Democrats not outmanuevered Sanders out of primary contention, I believe his passion for change would have beaten Trump.
I am not convinced that Trump was the wisest decision for America or for the world, nor do I believe that he will be the change that America desperately needs, but like any good salesman Trump understood that you can convince anyone of anything if you sound as if you believe it too.
Hate as I do the right wing elements that seem to dominate the world, they impress me with the passion they exhibit to defend their hateful rheotric.
Above: Political commentator Bill O’Reilly
Folks like Bill O’Reilly or Alex Jones or Tomi Lahren are an offense to the ear, the heart and the conscience, but folks willingly listen to them because their passion is persuasive.
Above: Radio host Alex Jones
President Obama has his faults – ask O’Reilly, Jones or Lahren, they will gladly detail them – but he remains a man of both passion and compassion, intelligence and class, courage and conviction, and for this he maintains my respect.
Above: Political commentator Tomi Lahren
Trump’s bluster mimics these qualities but never duplicates them.
For quality of character will always be the defining karma of a man.
But Trump is President, not by virtue of his character but in spite of it.
But what is passion?
How can passion be developed?
“In my experience, passion doesn’t always pop up and accost you with a raging fervor.
Passion can start in a much gentler way.
My own passion started with a sense of unease, a feeling of being weirded out.
When this feeling refused to go away, I began to look deeper, to try to find out what was going on.”
(Lucy-Anne Holmes, How to Start a Revolution)
“The life of the mind should be open to all who want to commit themselves to the time and energy it demands….
There are many ordinary men and women who have never gone to a university.
Many workingmen are self-taught intellectuals.
They devote their free time to serious reading and discussion.
Their limitations stem more from a lack of method than a lack of intelligence….
I noticed how much satisfaction some people got out of going beyond self-discovery to discovery of something important or beautiful or powerful or fascintating about the world.
Self-fulfillment consists of finding and filling their “hole in the world”….
Such people have discovered a particular question, problem, issue, person, task or puzzle that is theirs.
It intrigues them, challenges them, amuses them, enchants them, bedevils them – and they love it.”
(Ronald Gross, The Independent Scholar’s Handbook)
This is passion.
“Those who have looked closely at the lives and work of individuals who have found their “hole in the world” have realised that talent is not simply given or “found”….
Talent is a product people create, rather than a gift they receive.
Talent is the retrospective acknowledgement that a person has identified and intensively pursued his work.
Any person can discover and develop the unique potential for talented behaviour which each of us possesses.
The secret is to focus on the field of activity that you find compelling and relate all your random experience to it.
This leads to accomplishment, expertise, self-education and recognition as being talented.”
(Ronald Gross, The Independent Scholar’s Handbook)
For these people, they have found their passion.
“I enjoy these people’s enthusiasms.
They have something to tell us about how to live a full life.”
(Henry Doering, The World Almanac Book of Buffs, Masters, Mavens and Uncommon Experts)
“I will not wait till I have converted the whole society to my view but will straightaway make a beginning with myself.”
(Mohandas Gandhi, Constructive Workers’ Conference, 24 January 1946)
Above: Mohandas “Mahatma” Karamchand Gandhi, Indian independence leader (1869 – 1948)
If there is one universal fact of life that can be proven beyond any shadow of a doubt, it is that a single person can bring change.
Change – even the greatest change – begins with a single person.
Change begins the moment that person begins it.
If you mean to make a difference in the world, you cannot wait for others to begin the change.
You cannot wait even for your own changes to become widespread or universal.
Begin the project, no matter how ambitious, with yourself.
Sources: Alan Axelrod, Gandhi CEO / Henry Doering, The World Almanac Book of Buffs, Masters, Mavens and Uncommon Experts / Ronald Gross, The Independent Scholar’s Handbook / Lucy-Anne Holmes, How to Start a Revolution / Michael Norton, 365 Ways to Change the World / Wikipedia