In a world of skepticism, negativity and tattered truths, I found Ignite Good by happenstance really. Paul Kaye, the President of MSIA and the Heartfelt Foundation invited me and a bunch of other spirited and eager millennials to a presentation meeting about Ignite Good and making a difference in the world through service.
Now I like to consider myself a rather fortunate man with a blessed and privileged childhood. I've also had a lot of rude awakenings in my day from moving to Los Angeles with an English literature degree from the University of Pittsburgh and not really knowing what to do with my life. So I started going out and trying to "change the world" -- that was my motto in college by the way. And as I did go out into the world, I realized and experienced a lot of things. From dealing with sleazy sales jobs with people that didn't care about anyone or anything but themselves -- even though they could smile the smile and talk the talk and pitch the pitch -- it was all polished, fake, selfish and going nowhere. And then I met amazing teachers and tutors and educators and leaders in the community who were making a massive and incredible difference to the kids and people in their lives, and it was so touching and inspiring to me. But then as I got more involved, I realized it was paycheck-to-paycheck, day-to-day, an on-going and seemingly never-ending struggle to just survive and keep the hope and the dream alive and burning. And I had a dream for an abundant and wealthy and rich life as well, full of experience and travel and success and "security."
And so I eventually bit the bullet as it were and went back to school. I quickly and cheaply earned a Bachelor's degree in accounting and within a month of graduating I was working as the financial manager for a small and growing IT company. I had entered the 9-5 and for the first time ever I had more and regular money in my bank account. And life was actually pretty good. I ate the meals I wanted to eat (within reason), my bills were paid, I could save, I really felt like I was taking care of myself and I really was. And that was nice, because it hadn't really happened before so it was a new experience for me, and I liked it. But eventually death started to creep up inside me. It actually started to consume me. I couldn't feel my truth anymore as strange as that may sound. I felt alone in the world -- in a mass of endless payroll cycles and calendar dates and checks to write and reports to run and analyze and meetings to have. And for what? I mean really for what? I didn't own the company, so the money really wasn't there for me. And furthermore I didn't really care about what I was doing. I did it though and did it well and did it happily. But that was me focusing on the small details before me; I didn't want to look at the larger reality all around me. The big picture. The long-term picture. The real deal that was going on for me all around me. It was too big. Too hard. Too impossible. And yet it was all so obvious. The solutions are just so easy and simple -- it's the implementation of them that seems to be where the backlog is. Whether it was in Washington or in my own life, I could see it was the same story -- I just wasn't really doing the things that I needed to do. I really wasn't making the hard decisions in my own life. So why or how could I expect Washington politicians to do differently than me?
In reality there is no such thing as a politician. We are all just people. And the more we look at everyone as a person, a human being, a living creature on this planet Earth -- the more we realize we are all facing the same issues day in and day out. We are all together in this fight regardless of what anyone says or thinks or does or feels. We are all one here. We are all human. And it is unfair and incredibly disempowering for us to demand of our politicians anything without us giving up and sacrificing and demanding the same for ourselves. If we don't take climate change seriously how can a politician? Clearly politicians are bought out by all sorts of organizations and entities, and yeah that's basically the definition of corruption. But so what? Aren't we "bought out" by the same entities too? And really aren't those entities themselves "bought out" by their own false beliefs and desires for money and power? So what's really going on here? It seems to me we are all faced with big decisions in our lives today from climate change, to poverty, to retirement, to health care, to sustainable families and communities, to loving each other as Jesus loved. These are serious and deep issues that each of us deal with regularly, daily, and in both subtle and obvious ways every day. And what if those crooked politicians need a leader for themselves too? What if our leaders are lost? Who then is going to lead them and how? I propose to you that it is each of us who can lead, and we do this through example, through putting our own bodies on the line, our own sacrifices personally and professionally in the name of something larger, something greater, something truly good. And what is good really? Good is something that relates to people, to places, to things. It goes beyond ourselves and our own vision and viewpoint. It reaches into others' hearts and stirs them awake. Goodness is aliveness, and we are here to live lives of goodness. Life is free and therefore our acts of goodness must have freedom in them. To truly let Freedom ring is good. To let others express themselves, to be your brother's keeper, to love another, to put down your own interests in the name of OUR interests. That's good. And that includes you, me, us, everyone. To sacrifice my own interests for OUR interests automatically includes me. It's really not even a sacrifice. It's a giving. And it gives into all that is around me, and I implore you that when you give to others, you include yourself in that giving. You MUST include yourself. We all must include each other for to look out for ourselves is the first step in the process of looking out for each other.
Strangely enough, in this moment, I see the world and all of us in it like a massive venn diagram. As I expand my circle, I cross over into yours. And as you expand your circle you cross into mine. And we share. And we collaborate and incorporate. We rally together and we are one. And each of us is PERSONALLY included, personally invested, there is personal ownership, and there is the larger collective ownership. So how does this relate to our issues today? Really? I am suggesting to you that as you live your life more successfully and more fully, then you will automatically and naturally be expanding your circle and encompassing others. And that success is an inclusive, and healthy, and sustainable, and caring success. It's a success that has abundance in it. There is nothing that is not explored. All is welcomed in this success. Every trade, every skill set, every knowledge base and tactic. It is all considered. From mergers and acquisitions to Facebook campaigns, to re-using plastic bags and grocery bags, to building and funding serious deep space exploration, to balancing your checkbook, to exercising, to empowering the disenfranchised youth and minorities and less privileged, to meditation and contemplation, to how to properly work with weapons and guns. It's all a part of our success. And it doesn't hurt others. That's success too. There is no successful man who willingly or intentionally hurts another or lies to another or puts another down. When we can all learn to stand up without having to push another down, when we can all learn to explore without permission, to claim what is ours by right not by request, that's the day we'll change. That's the day we'll see the Light at the end of the tunnel. The great bend towards justice.
This is what Ignite Good did for me. This is what Ignite Good continues to do for me, and is why I continue to participate, to support, to expand into doing more and more good in this world, with myself, and with all of you. I ask you to check out Ignite Good for yourselves. Go take a seminar. Go do a workshop. Go inside with an Ignite Good coach, share yourself, your vulnerability, your truth, your joy, your pain, your experience. Find out what awesome truths and feelings live within you. Learn how to harness it, frame it, and express it in such a way that it ignites you. And when you're ignited all those you talk to and share with, they'll get ignited. Go out there and start doing some good. In particular, do the good you are called to do today, right now. And do it really fucking well. Thank you and Amen.