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Fixing the world, with this Small Flame

I GOOGLED “How To Fix The World”… it came up with some interesting reads. You know, lofty socio-economic reforms and major paradigm shifts in political ideology. Possible, but not probable… And certainly not feasible given the state of everything.

For me, I like to think about how to fix the world by using this picture:

“All the darkness in the world can’t dim the light of one small flame.”



As a teenager, I remember spending one holiday in the Karoo with my friend. The vast, flat, desert landscape was particularly dark at night. We’d sneak out and go for walks long after sunset in the cold, dark winter evenings. I remember clearly how a distant car’s headlights could illuminate everything around us.

That was powerful imagery: light pushes back darkness.

Ok, so you’re with me so far… light pushes back darkness, and so all you have to do to fix the world is shine some light into it’s dark recesses.

The next question is, how?

How do you shine a light that will fix the world?

Ok, well first of all… some context here. You and I can’t fix the world on our own. We need help. Divine-intervention-kind-of-help. Because the first part of recognizing how to fix something is to see exactly where the fault is. And you and I are part of the world, which means we’re a part of what is broken.

Ouch.

But the truth is… we’re broken… we fall short… ka-put.

Road Rage 1

Take for example, how you drive.

Have you ever noticed that everyone driving slower than you is an idiot? And everyone driving faster than you is a maniac? I always think you can tell a lot about a person through the way they drive.

Rules are there for a reason. They’re intended to keep everyone on the road safe. In South Africa, I heard someone once say that traffic laws exist more as general guidelines rather than hard-and-fast rules. Certainly that seems to be the case the way some people drive! But on the other end of the spectrum, you have those on the road that will try and enforce the rules themselves – through driving tactics, hooters and general “death stare” tactics… sometimes even road rage.

These things point to the extremes – on the one hand there are those who just don’t take matters seriously, and behave ever-so nonchalantly. And on the other hand there are those who take it very seriously, so much so that they are compelled beyond how they’re expected to behave.

Rules are there for a reason. They’re intended to keep everyone safe. And yet somehow, our flaws and failings as the human race seem to indicate that the rules polarise us apart more and aggravate our differences, more than they do to keep us together and happy.

Driving is one thing. But think about the laws of the land. Think about the 10 commandments. There are those who don’t adhere to them, and there are others who take the law into their own hands against those who don’t. “An eye for an eye” etc.

I don’t think that fixing the world is about getting the rules right. If everyone did, it would certainly help, but I just don’t think our human condition is such that we’re going to start suddenly getting the rules right. To fix the world is not a formula, I don’t believe. It’s not something that is easily prescribed.

So how do we fix the world? I think we need good relationships. With ourselves. With our families. With our friends and community. And yes, even with those who irritate us.

To get back to my earlier point, you and I can’t fix the world on our own. We need each other’s help. When we realise that it’s okay to be different – that compromise is sometimes better than doggedly trying to stick to the rules – that’s when relationships take priority. That’s the one small flame we can all shine together.

And I believe that’s when we’ll see more fixing than brokenness in the world around us.

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