Friday, July 29, 2011

Stop Waiting on the World to Change

It's a friendly sounding little tune, but simmering under the catchy melody is a sinister message.

Though I'm mostly a fan, John Mayer's "Waiting on the World to Change" has always irked me. It's not just the sound of the song (though I hate those bells used in the intro and interludes). It's the lyrics.

I would ask if you've heard the song, but I'll assume that you've turned on a radio in the last three years. On the surface, it's a protest against against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a cry of frustration from a generation that's misunderstood and exasperated with stubborn leaders and a perceived powerlessness to effect change.

The sentiment seems right on target, especially as our legislators butt heads over raising our national debt ceiling. How can We the People be blamed for the polarized political system we've inherited? Maybe we should just hold on until the crisis passes, like an earthquake or a seizure. Maybe we should just wait, and the world will heal itself.

But listen a little closer and you'll hear the problem with the song. It subtly permits us to do nothing, assuming our efforts will be futile anyway. It's classic ostrich mentality, where passivity becomes a form of self-righteous protest.

Though the song presents it in a government-citizen context, I think waiting on the world to change has become a guiding personal philosophy for many. We see it in the erosion of responsibility in our country as more people rely on the government to meet their needs, their entitled mind telling them all the while that this is the way it should be. 

Even worse is the way it has seeped into men's lives. I need look no further than the mirror for evidence. I'm often waiting on my job, marriage, faith, Chinese language ability or any number of aspects of my life to change, rarely recognizing that if I would just do something about it, they probably would.

We live in a spoiled generation - at least I do. Pessimists will disagree, pointing out issues like global warming and the fact that last year's doomsday recession still has some people checking the unemployment rate like it's the weather.

Still, think of the progression our fathers and grandfathers faced: World Wars I and II, the Great Depression, the Korean War and Vietnam. They knew real crises; we often melt down at the slightest inconvenience.

This is neither American nor manly nor Christian. Men take responsibility, even when it's not their fault, knowing that ownership of the problem gives them the ability to fix it. Christian men don't lament that the world is going to hell in a hand basket. They dive into the fire to keep the basket from burning. We must reclaim that spirit.

Start today. Whatever the problem is - family, finances, career - become the solution. Stop waiting on your world to change. Change it yourself.

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