I like to read a weekly blog—Mike at Night—by Mike Hendricks. Mike is a professor at a small community college in southwestern Nebraska. I do not always agree with Mike, but he makes his readers think . . . and, I think that is a good chunk of what writing is supposed to be about . . . making the readers think. His most recent blog came out the day after some pretty horrific things took place and were reported in the news. In particular he mentioned the downing of the commercial jet over the border of Ukraine that killed all 298 people on board . . . the land invasion of Israel into Gaza . . . and, the bank robbery in California that ended with two of the three robbers and one hostage being killed. This news and other news like this over time seemed to have made him cynical . . . he does not think that humanity will ever change . . . that this pattern of inhumanity, hatred, and violence will never end. As he put it: “All of this happened within a few hours on July 17th, 2014. Even though most of the people in the world are trying to be good and live within the rules that society has created for them, many people aren't. Violent acts such as the ones committed yesterday have been committed since the birth of civilization and will continue to be as long as the world exists.”
In his blog he writes that we humans go through different stages in life and that one of those stages is an unrealistic one of optimism . . . especially when it comes to the state of humanity and the world. During this stage we think the best of humanity . . . we think that we can change the world and that the world can be changed . . . we think that peace has a chance. In this stage of optimism he mentioned John Lennon’s song, Give Peace a Chance, as the ideal . . . that if everyone just tried it, it would happened. Unfortunately, according to Mike, nothing has ever changed . . . and, he believes that it never will. People shoot down airplanes filled with innocent people . . . wars are waged . . . and, people kill other people doing stupid things like robbing banks. In his estimation, nothing changes . . . and, sadly, lots of people feel just like he feels. Nothing seems to change, so let us just hang on until our tour of duty is completed.
His blog sadden me . . . I guess I must be an eternal optimist.
I took a class in journalism while I was in high school and learned a lot. One of the things that I learned is that if you misspell a word in an article, you either correct it or keep doing it until people begin to think that maybe they are the ones who do not know how to the spell the word. Keep doing it until people believe you . . . that has been my approach to writing ever since! Later in life I learned about the 99th monkey or 100th monkey theory (which it is depends on who is telling the story). It is a simple theory . . . a phenomenon in which a new behavior or idea is claimed to spread rapidly by unexplained means from one group to all related groups once a critical number of members of one group exhibit the new behavior or acknowledge the new idea. In other words, it is done over and over again until it catches on . . . the only problem is no one knows for certain what the magical number is.
I believe. I believe that one has to keep plugging away . . . plugging away until that magical number is found . . . plugging away until people believe . . . plugging away until it happens. I believe that the world can be a better place . . . a safer place . . . a place of peace and justice and love. I believe it can be the Kingdom of God as described by Jesus. I believe that we can do it . . . we can do it if we never give up, never quit. As I said, I am an optimist . . . eternally.
I believe, but it sure is getting lonely. Like Mike, think that a lot of people have thrown in the towel when it comes to realizing the perfect world in which there is peace, justice, and no violence . . . a lot of people have given up and hope that maybe, just maybe, the next generation will get it fixed. I also think that a lot of people give lip service to this idea of an ideal world in which humanity lives in harmony . . . it is easier said than done . . . and, it is the doing that is hard work. Thus I think that people just jump over to the place where everyone else is . . . joins the crowd. And, so, it gets lonely. Someone once said, “It’s easy to stand with the crowd . . . it takes courage to stand alone.”
I cannot buy that the world . . . that humanity . . . that society in general, cannot change and be this ideal that so many of us embraced in our younger years. I cannot buy that the world cannot change. Because I cannot buy this cynical world view, I continue to search for that 100th monkey . . . that 100th person who is going to be the switch that turns the world, turns humanity onto that which could be. I know that it can happen . . . I just don’t know when.
That is part of the problem . . . mass media and technology have made the human race impatient. We want everything and we want it now. We are not patient when it is not instantaneous . . . we get frustrated . . . we get grumpy . . . and, we quit. We quit if there are not instant results. As my mother used to tell me, “Patience, Prudence, patience.” But ours is the call of the vulture who got tired of waiting for something to die so it could eat, “Patience my butt, I want to kill something!” Realizing the Kingdom takes patience . . . lots of patience.
Because it takes patience all one can do is to go about the business of Kingdom building . . . of living peacefully . . . of seeking and doing justice . . . of loving one’s neighbors (who happen to be everyone). It takes one person at a time . . . one person who just might be that 100th monkey.
I hope that there are others out there who have not given up . . . those who continue to live life in such a way that it is working towards the realization of the Kingdom. I know that I will continue to strive towards finding that ideal world . . . one person at a time. Are you the one? Pass it on.