In English Class they make you study the worst of humanity. But there are some interesting works covered, like William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience.
If you took any subject that involved poetry there’s a good chance you know about Blake already, but I’ll outline it for those who haven’ts. The Songs is a collection of poems covering multiple subjects from two perspectives, one of childlike innocence, and one of more mature (and cynical) experience.
Blake will talk something like a chimney sweep (back in the day, those were little boys because they could fit inside the stack;) a procession of orphans on Holy Thursday, a garden; or a lamb and a tiger; and look at it first how a child would, with simplicity and a rose tinted view of the world, and then switch int he corresponding poem to an adult’s perspective, aware of all the bad things in the world.
It’s a unique idea, and it brings to mind how many poets and writers turn more cynical in their later days anyway. I think one reason, among many, is that they realize their ideas aren’t enough to fix the world’s problems.
Humans have this odd notion that our beliefs and ideals are enough to inspire people to resolve the issues int he world. With our Civil Rights Movement, protests, charities, and speeches, and of course, art.
I believe in all those things, but I have no illusions that they’ll work for everyone, at all times. My professor was commenting on how sad it was that it took a full hundred years from the Civil War to the Civil Rights movement to really change how people felt about African Americans. My private reaction “A hundred years seems like a long time for human to change their culture to you? The world’s been around thousands of years and slaver and other evils still exists, they just shift around. It’s not like we’re getting rid of it altogether. Any progress a nation makes in eradicating an evil is a fight against the odds.”
I’m not cynical, I’ve just come to realize that mankind is not the answer to the world’s problems. At one time, perhaps we were, but since then we’ve become too much of the problem.
I don’t buy into that sci-fi super-villain mentality that mankind is a disease, by any means. I just consider us too much of a mixed bag. We undo each other’s work. We make progress for a century or two, and then we lose it. We ebb and flow. That’s okay. Because we aren’t the answer, we’re just part of the solution.
You can guess where I’m going with this, of course, Jesus is the answer.
Seriously, as often as we hear that, do we get it? Christians get all fired up over how we can change the world around us…I think “The Bible doesn’t say to change the world. The Bible says we need to change. We need to be different from the world. And then those in it will either come to the light, or they will shun it.” Jesus commanded us to make disciples, not to turn political tides.
I don’t have a problem with doing that. We are citizens on this planet and should promote its well being as much as we can. But at the end of the day, we don’t belong to the world, and the world won’t save us. And we can’t save it.
I pray for what goes on in the world, but I recognize that is is what is important to me that I can affect the most. I used to think my life wouldn’t be effective unless I reached a lot of people. I still believe that’s possible, but now I also see that numbers aren’t what’s important.
What is important is people, individuals.
“The whole course of human history may depend on a change of heart in one solitary and even humble individual – for it is in the solitary mind and soul of the individual that the battle between good and evil is waged and ultimately won or lost.”– M. Scott Peck.
This is the true battle.