To understand what is wrong in the world, look first in the mirror, not the newspaper
When we hear about the many things wrong in the world, we may feel distressed and disheartened. To make sense of things, we may read newspaper editorials. While such reading may offer useful social analysis, that won’t empower us as much as if we look in the mirror, that is, take a hard look at ourselves. Let’s see how.
The world’s major problems originate in common human impurities such as lust, anger and greed. Lust impels sexual crimes, anger impels violent crimes, and greed impels financial crimes. When people give in to these impurities to an extreme degree, their actions become grisly newspaper headlines. Such crimes need to be corrected by the government. If we have the power and the zeal to bring about such corrective action, we can and should do so.
While such administrative punitive intervention may be necessary, it is never sufficient. As long as people remain controlled by their impurities, they will do wrong and will make things worse. Pertinently, the Bhagavad-gita cautions that lust, anger and greed make life hellish (16.21), and assures that those who steer clear of these impurities can act constructively (16.22). Therefore more important than governmental legislation is individual purification.
And such purification can begin with ourselves. A hard look at ourselves will show us how we too are infected by these impurities and how they impel us to wrongdoings, even if minor. By purifying ourselves of these impurities, if we become as good as we can be or even if we become slightly better than what we are, we can act as small but significant change agents. Further, if we connect with the all-pure divine, Krishna, he may empower us beyond our present capacities to help raise human consciousness, thereby bringing about effective, enduring change.
Think it over:
- Where do the world’s major problems originate?
- For becoming change agents, how can looking in the mirror empower us more than looking in the newspaper?
- How can we become effective change agents?
16.22 The man who has escaped these three gates of hell, O son of Kunti, performs acts conducive to self-realization and thus gradually attains the supreme destination.
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