“I’d rather be for what I’m for than against what I’m against.” ~ Anonymous
We have become a nation of cause-mongers, devoting the bulk of our energies to fighting that which we are against, while leaving very little to support what we truly believe in. Listen to the messages from the preacher’s pulpit to the politician’s soap box and you will hear beautifully articulated messages which center on the struggle with the opposition in general or a specific scapegoat of some description, be it the political opposition or the devil himself (which incidentally comes from the ancient Greek term “diábolos” or “slanderer”). Whenever you slander another person, place or thing, you are casting your lot with those who oppose virtue, honor and righteousness no matter how justified you feel in your cause.
The greatest of men rally their supporters around a higher vision and not a common enemy.
Religious and secular leaders today seem to have resigned themselves to focusing on what they don’t like, what they oppose and what they fear rather than articulating a vision for a brighter, more harmonious future. I’ve worked with this myself in my writing, as it is typically easier to articulate what not to do than it is to suggest what to do. Likewise, it is usually easier to enumerate those things which you are against than it is to share what you are for.
You can be more effective in living if you learn to emphasize in both heart and mind the right habits, mindset and approaches that constrain to a more generative future. To do so you must refrain from the well-worn tendency to dwell on the problems, failures and disappointments of your recent or distant past. Big is the person who says “I’ll never do that again” and then makes good on the promise without having to be reminded.
Struggle with implies subjection to. When you are subject to something, it is bigger than you are for the moment. When you struggle with a challenging math problem, for instance, you are dwarfed by its complexity. When you struggle with a missing element of character, say patience, that another possesses in abundance, you say “he’s a bigger man than me.” Struggle with invariably implies subjection to.
Conversely, when you overcome a previously maintained bad habit you might say “that is now beneath me.” You are no longer subject to that limitation. Or when you stop fighting with or hating someone you wrestled with for days, months or years, that person no longer “owns” you. You rise up. You are a bigger person. And in so doing you invite the other person to rise up with you. The line is drawn in the sand, not in a confrontational way, but by virtue of your own internal emphasis on doing the right thing.
My hope for the next generation of political and spiritual leaders is that they will come to the point of artfully painting a practical vision for the future, one that inspires those who follow to let go of any struggles they may be pouring their lives into and yield or incline themselves in the direction of their highest vision for the future.
Listen to yourself today. Every time you feel the urge to be “against what you are against” take the high road and be “for what you are for.” If your experience is anything like mine, you will find that the weight of the world is lifted from your shoulders. Moreover, those areas of your life where you feel small, insignificant and powerless will evaporate as the sun of true virtue rises in you.
Give it a shot!