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A Serious Guide to Remaking the World
Wednesday, December 1, 2004
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At various times in their lives some people revisit that longing to have a calling more than a job. And during the proverbial mid-life crisis, it makes itself uncomfortably felt, when we ask ourselves yet again, 'What is life really all about?'

Jean BrownSome years ago my daughter, then aged five, announced with satisfaction that her primary school class had decided to save the world. We all get that call at some point, usually before the age of 26. Perhaps you thought you would feed the starving, end war, save the environment. Even devote your life to God. There is a knock at the door of our imagination and we usually open it enough to glimpse amazing and alarming possibilities for our lives. It always involves the invitation to serve the world and a purpose bigger than ourselves, but the door is most times quickly shut and the vision lost, mothered, smothered out of us in the interests of career, security and the many temptations to self interest.

At various times in their lives some people revisit that longing to have a calling more than a job. And during the proverbial mid-life crisis, it makes itself uncomfortably felt, when we ask ourselves yet again, 'What is life really all about?' Mother Teresa referred to the call within a call. There is the universal call, which is common to everyone, and the specific call that beckons to each one's uniqueness. Someone once commented that we find our unique calling at that place where our gifts and passion intersect with the world's needs. Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote in Who is Man?: 'Over and above personal problems, there is an objective challenge to overcome inequity, injustice, helplessness, suffering, carelessness, oppression. 'Over and above the din of desires there is a calling, a demanding, a waiting, and an expectation. There is a question that follows me wherever I turn. What is expected of me? What is demanded of me? 'This is the most important experience in the life of every human being: something is asked of me. Every human being has had a moment in which they sensed a mysterious waiting for them. Meaning is found in responding to the demand....' Frank Buchman, initiator of MRA, now Initiatives of Change, summed up that response in four steps: Change-start with yourself. Then engage others. Next, create answers for the community and, lastly, give hope to humanity. And all at the same time of course. He actually used slightly different words since he was speaking to an audience in the 1930s, but the meaning was the same.

Buchman was echoing saints and sages down through the centuries, signposts for their times. Nearly 3,000 years ago the prophet Micah put it like this, 'What does the Lord require of us? To live justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with God.' Buchman's four steps may not be the political, philosophical and economic steps to the answers that we need in the world, but they precede and accompany them-or at least they should, if integrity is to be at the heart of the process. Ahh, integrity-that elusive key. 'Sometimes it is easier to serve humanity than it is to be good tempered at the breakfast table,' wrote Australian author Stephanie Dowrick.

NOTE: Individuals of many cultures, nationalities, religions, and beliefs are actively involved with Initiatives of Change. These commentaries represent the views of the writer and not necessarily those of Initiatives of Change as a whole.