“All my life, I’ve always wanted to be somebody, but I see now I should have been more specific.” – Lily Tomlin
Of all its strong selling points, my initial attraction to Pepperdine University School of Law was its Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution. I recently had the opportunity to be a student again and enroll in the Straus Institute’s twenty-eighth annual Professional Skills Program. It is always good to spend time around peacemakers.
It takes two thoughts to explain my passion in life: peace, and justice. If I just said peace, it might imply a desire to get along at the expense of addressing the injustice around us, but if I just said justice, it might imply that we make things “right” with no attention to reconciliation. The subtitle of my blog—inspiring positive change—imagines positive change as peace and justice working in concert.
This is why I love where I work. Pepperdine Law pursues justice, and its Straus Institute reminds us to simultaneously pursue peace.
This may also explain why I have no hair. How does one simultaneously pursue these two lofty goals that often seem diametrically opposed to one another?
The answer I believe lies in Gandhi’s observation, “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him . . . . We need not wait to see what others do.” Or, if you prefer a negative framing, Tolstoy said, “Everybody thinks of changing humanity, and nobody thinks of changing himself.”
If I want the world to love and respect each other while making real progress—and I do—then instead of primarily focusing my energies on changing people who I may never influence, I should change myself toward this noble dream.
Soren Kierkegaard reportedly once told a parable about ducks. The ducks waddled to a duck church where they sat in duck pews, sang duck songs, prayed duck prayers, and heard a duck preacher say: “Ducks! You have wings, and with wings you can fly. Fly, ducks fly!” The ducks all quacked, “Amen!” and then got up and waddled home.
For all our blustery talk about the state of the world, things begin to look up when I change me.
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