...self care is never a selfish act- it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do so not only for ourselves but for the many others whose lives we touch.

Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak

Friday, June 26, 2009

Change in a Culture of Contentment

John Kenneth Galbraith's theory of social change seems to hold up in that there's no change until enough people get ticked off enough to organize and vote to make it happen. It's called the Misery Index. That's the question regarding the public option for health insurance. If it happens it's because enough of us who are doing OK find it intolerable that 40+ million men, women, and children are unprotected.

Again, the question about the critical mass for change is relevant. It would seem that the 2008 election answered that question. In addition, it appears that the misery index- the anger and frustration over the greed and neglect in the present system is outstripping the fear of change, "Trojan horses" notwithstanding. Besides, most are clueless about what that analogy means anyway.

We come back to Galbraith's theory of social change- that people really don't care about changing anything until their own contentment is threatened. Does the same thing hold true for personal and community change? What about changes in spirituality? Do we value our contentment and prize a comfortable life at all costs? And once that is messed with, then and only then do we think about moving, changing?

Though I hate to admit it, that strain is in me, because I like the path of least resistance and choose it regularly. That's why practices and disciplines of the spirit are so helpful-- they can tame our animal adaptation to pleasure and help us to live beyond just our own contentment, where we can experience God's grace and life as gift, not possession. Disciplines like prayer, study, gratitude are not "add- ons." Rather, they are the medicines, the daily prescriptions if you will, that keep us from grabbing our way through life. And grabbing from others.

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Having been in ordained ministry in the UMC for 34 years, I've experienced the truth that although, clergy are frequently present for others, no one can offer what they don't have.That's why if you're a clergy person, you need someone who will listen to you. Not the random next closest person available, but rather someone like a spiritual director, a therapist, a peer who can be fully present to you. I hope the links and posts you find here will give you ideas, humor, hope and encouragement. Scott Endress

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If you want a formula for making the best of the less-than-perfect and making the most of what you have been given, then begin to compare your lot to what you were before you were born, and it will empower you with wonder every time. John Claypool

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