My Manifesto: Change, Hope, and Making It Matter
Before we get started let me offer a brief word of explanation. I am going through an incredible personal and spiritual metamorphosis. No, I have not abandoned my Christian faith. I still hold fast to those precious and priceless spiritual tenets. I love Jesus Christ. I say that boldly and without shame. However, I am undergoing an incredible transformation of purpose and focus.
Increasingly, my life goals are becoming redirected toward paths I never considered traveling in my younger days. For those of you know me, consider this blog to be a statement of my intentions for the years ahead. I still have more questions than answers and I have very little awareness of what will happen beyond Oxford. I just know the passion that burns within me. Personally, I have no real ambitions as they relate to either personal accomplishment or accolades. All I really want is to spend my remaining years building His kingdom in meaningful and practical ways. To be honest, I doubt I’ll ever be a pulpit preacher again. The vision I have is more along the lines of a Joseph, Daniel, Job, or Boaz. They were not “professional clergy” but they were divinely positioned by God and greatly impacted the world around them. That is all I want in life. Period.
So, having said all that…
Yes, the spring semester ended last week, but as I’ve told you before, for me this current season in my life is not about a degree. Not at all. It’s about learning as much as I can for the next part of this Divine journey. As a result, I’ve been reading statistical data on development and poverty the past few days. I know. Sounds boring, right? Not necessarily. And certainly not in my opinion. At any rate, I came across this quote:
“…development is about giving hope to ordinary people that their children will live in a society that has caught up with the rest of the world. Take that hope away and the smart people will use their energies not to develop their society but to escape from it…” ~ Paul Collier, from the book “The Bottom Billion”
In this instance the author was writing primarily about Africa+, those 58 nations that are the poorest in our world today. However, having spent almost 2 decades in American ghettos, I can attest to the accuracy of that statement for many people living here in our own country. It certainly explains the incredible amount of apathy and self-destructive behavior that currently plagues our nation (a reality that is equally true of the traditional middle-class as well as the “poor”). Lose hope for a better tomorrow and the daily stuff of life loses its meaning and value. Why try if you don’t believe it will make any difference? Why work if you never have time to live? Why bother if none of it means anything?
I have held the belief for years that social “change” does not happen apart from the proper incentives. And it certainly will not happen because of legislative mandates. The political system in America today has become so encumbered with “personal political expediency” that we as a nation have lost the ability to even discuss our problems much less find solutions. Think about it. Bring up any issue and the first thing we do is draw lines of delineation and distinction between left and right, conservative and liberal, Democrat and Republican (and Tea Party). The second thing we do is argue and accuse. We don’t listen. We don’t seek to learn. And we certainly don’t seek what is best for the people. Consensus is a political curse word. Common ground is the compromise of the weak. Compassion and justice are cast aside in a struggle to promote our own personal platforms. And in the end, it’s the public, the everyday people who make up the majority of our population, that pays the price. Tragedy of tragedy. And it’s our own fault.
Change begins and ends with hope. Give people a reason to hope and they will discover the power to move forward. So… yeah… there you go. I just want to be a voice for hope. Granted, I haven’t quite figured out what that looks like or sounds like. Hope can be different things to different people. But the essential truth remains the same. Ordinary people in our world are dying for hope. Isn’t it time that we gave it to them again?
So, to answer your question… “What are your future goals?” Maybe I’ll be a business man with a heart for social equity? Maybe I’ll work for a NGO or some other social agency? Maybe I’ll even think about politics? (Wow! I cannot believe I just typed that last sentence…) Like I said, it doesn’t matter to me. It’s not about what I want. All I care about is what He wants. For now, it means finishing school at Oxford. After that, maybe Harvard. (Double wow! I really cannot believe I just typed that sentence…) God hasn’t shown me anything concrete beyond the month of December. Yes, I’m 47 years old and I’m still doing the “Abraham” thing, following God to a “land” He will show me (Gen. 12:1). In fact, the Harvard thing might just be me. There is one variable that I have placed before the Lord like Gideon’s fleece (more on that at a later date). I just know that for now I’m open, I’m available, and I’m hungry to make a difference. Lord, here am I. Use me. Send me. Be glorified through me.