This morning as I was scrolling through my daily intake of social media I noticed that the words “world changer” appeared a surprising number of times.
In most cases, writers used the phrase “world changer” to reference a person’s aspirations to cause an end to some kind of injustice in the world. In most instances the phrase was self-referencing, alluding to the writer’s own aspirations to make an impact on injustice. It seems that only the words “world changer” could possibly suit the magnitude of such beneficent actions.
On the surface it seems that we should all aspire to be world changers. Furthermore, it seems that the general consensus is that such actions worthy of world changing status should be within the easy reach of the common man.
Upon further reflection, it appears that there are several difficulties with world changing aspirations.
First, the phrase “world changer” implies that the world can indeed be changed either through our efforts or the collective efforts of good-willed people like us.
We could all probably agree that the world needs to change. For the purposes of conversation let’s say that the “world” is the totality of all humanity on earth, all of our collective actions and the consequences of those actions. Anyone who has lived for any significant amount of time knows that human existence is full of tragedy, injustice, pain and suffering. Who wouldn’t want to see the end of such a reality?
But it is one thing to acknowledge the existence of such a world. It is quite another to think for a moment that we can do anything about it. The idea that enough of us doing enough good can either expel injustice and evil from the world for good or cancel the ill-effects of such injustice, is completely ludicrous. Anyone who thinks for a moment that their actions either individual or collective, pack sufficient power to right the wrongs of the world has either seriously underestimated the pervasive root of evil or has seriously overestimated their own influence.
This type of attitude is particularly prevalent in the western mindset of the millennial generation who seem to have been led to believe by well meaning parents and teachers that they have a great deal to offer to “the world” despite their woeful lack of experience and knowledge. Such a mindset is destructive, because at best, such aspirations will inevitably lead to disillusionment as well meaning recent graduates come into contact with the reality of a world so completely evil that they cannot even begin to understand the causes of its’ problems much less fix them.
Second, the concept of living as a “world changer” implies that the good a person does ought to be recognizable at a global scale or even recognized at all. Again, on the surface this seems so right. After all bigger is better right?
The trouble with this line of thinking is that it is much easier to address the evil and injustice of “the world” and totally ignore our own evil desires and personally destructive choices. It is entirely possible for an unkind, unloving person to serve in a position of power where they give their life to end some kind of injustice, all the while sowing seeds of hatred in the hearts of their own children and those closest to them. While this “world changer” fights for a better world “out there” the world that they are in the best position to influence becomes a place where no one actually wants to live.
The designation “world” removes the closeness of the trouble with the human condition. The person identifying as a “world changer” is tempted to see the “world” as a terrible place that needs to change, but their own marriage, family, company, and neighborhood are too small to deserve their attention.
Don’t get me wrong. The world is full of terrible wrongs that must be righted. And without question, we ought to be involved in doing good. But I find the term “world changer” to be an unhelpful designation for mere mortals like me. The narrative that informs my life tells the story of a God who so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son to live a life that I could not live and to die a death I could not die to pay a price for my rebellion that I could not pay. In this story, the world does indeed change. But it doesn’t change through the efforts of men. It changes when the God who created it all, comes and rules it again. Until then let us not get caught up in changing the world. Instead let’s just focus on recklessly loving people as God first loved us.