Separation is an Illusion

“Separation is an Illusion”  All the Christian spiritual masters say this: in God’s world, we’re all connected.  Interestingly, Buddhists and quantum physicists say it, too, along with Hindu gurus and Muslim Sufis.  Separation is an illusion.

This statement still startles me. The fact is, I like to think that I’m separate. I like to hold the violent places in the world not just at arm’s length, but at hemispheric length. How am I connected, for example, to Aleppo? I didn’t start that war! I’m totally against bombing hospitals and sniping at medical workers. If I had any power, I’d enforce a cease fire, but I don’t have any power or influence. Aleppo? That’s a separate thing.

And all that gun violence in Chicago? I’ve always advocated peaceful resolution to conflict and have practiced that in my ministry. I live in a totally separate world from those shattered neighborhoods where random slugs from drive-by shootings take down children sitting in their grandparents’ laps. I’m saddened by those stories, but they’re all happening somewhere else.

Now, I’m not a diplomat. I’ll never be consulted about any foreign affairs. The dictators and military “protectors” that blow things up aren’t going to solicit my opinion. And I’m not on the city council in Chicago. I’m not a community organizer there. I have no personal control over the flow of guns and our culture’s fantasy that violence solves any problems.

But I CAN be different where I live. There’s a quote attributed to Mahatma Gandhi: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” What if enough of us lived this way? And what if . . . WHAT IF . . . ?

Downtown Birmingham with some of the UAB Hospital campus in the foreground.
Downtown Birmingham with some of the UAB Hospital campus in the foreground.

What if a few hundred in Birmingham got involved in supporting their neighbors and friends more intentionally? What if they did that and their experiences influenced their neighbors, and THEIR neighbors got involved doing the same thing – and it kept multiplying? Hundreds could become thousands. It would go beyond Birmingham. It would connect with similar projects in other cities and communities. It could turn into millions more people around the country involved in community nurture. What if that happened? I believe such a movement could make a difference even with the way people view violence and its instruments. It could change the heart of our nation, and when a nation’s heart changes, it can have an affect on other nations.

As I’ve worked more in this area of support teams, I’ve encountered dozens of organizations devoted to promoting the same thing – strengthening community. It’s why I celebrate those organizations and continue to encourage and invite people to get involved with our efforts. Yes, getting involved in a support team makes a difference in the life of one specific person – but it sends out ripples, like a small pebble making a rather large lake undulate.  When we do these things, we affect the whole atmosphere.

Change happens when we ARE the change.  Imagine the possibilities!

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