Do the Thing in Front of You

As we come into 2018, I’m thinking of three things.

  1. What are my New Year’s resolutions?
  2. How can I avoid the endless sense of crisis and darkness I see every time I look at the news or open Twitter?
  3. How can I be a tiny part of making the world a better place?

Well in order:

  1. I don’t have any, they don’t work. I break them all by January the 3rd anyway, so what’s the point?
  2. It’s all around me and its almost impossible to avoid. I don’t have to dwell on it though or believe that it defines my existence. I just have to find a way to be part of turning the tide.

Which brings me to number three: How can I be a tiny part of making the world a better place?

I may be constantly faced with my own inability to turn a nation upside down, to make the world understand that we all have to change our whole eco-economic systems to survive the next fifty years of climate change, or to get just the right twitter phrase that rocks Donald Trump backwards. But that’s not my job.

My job is to garden well in my corner of the universe and to help everyone I meet and interact with flourish in every possible way I can.

I want to treat those I meet with more justice and dignity than I currently do; to look at my own behavior and attitudes to the oppressed, to people of colour, to women, and to those whose orientations are different from mine. To make decisions that benefit all, not just myself in the areas of what I buy, consume and support. To see the world through the eyes of the Jesus of the Bible, not those of the latter-day Pharisees and politically biased individuals who tolerate no dissent and call for complete obedience to a theology I see as actively anti-Kingdom of God.

My job is to garden well in my corner of the universe and to help everyone I meet and interact with flourish in every possible way I can. Click To Tweet

It’s a simple set of statements, isn’t it? Yet as I view the logs in my own eyes (more like a forest really), I can only begin to comprehend the enormity of the task. It requires that I constantly evaluate myself and make myself accountable to others so that they challenge me to be a better person than I currently am. And whilst I need this inward focus, it calls me to look outwards as well, to see the part of the world I inhabit and to find the ways that my interaction with it can be less harmful and more fruitful, not just for myself, but primarily for those I come into contact with.

And it requires me to take action in the simple yet profound ways that can bring change in my corner of the universe.

A few years ago, I attended a conference in which Ambassador Tony Hall, Chairman of the Alliance to End Hunger, quoted Mother Theresa in a meeting he had with her. She told him “Do the thing in front of you. If everybody did the thing in front of them, we wouldn’t have half the problems in the world.”

So this year, I am going to do the thing in front of me.  And I invite you to open your eyes and to see what’s in front of you. Then to go and do it.

And for you and those around you, maybe that will be enough.