TAKING ACTION IN THE ENVIRONMENT
How can humanity be persuaded to use this energy? Too often it lies dormant and unused – a great but undeveloped potency. The absence of goodwill is one of the fundamental causes of human problems. The power to solve these problems lies with individual people of goodwill. They need to rouse themselves from inertia and take action, thus demonstrating the effectiveness of this powerful energy.
The energy of goodwill may be used in various ways. It may be expressed by thought, by feeling and by the spoken word. It may also be dynamically expressed through practical action. To take action in some area of human need, to work creatively and constructively in the interest of human welfare, is a powerful and practical expression of goodwill.
Everyone is surrounded by countless opportunities to take action. But we must seize these opportunities and turn them to good account. We must respond to human need in the place in which we live and work. And above all else, we must act on our own initiative.
The establishment of goodwill begins with the individual's personal commitment to take dynamic action. Making a start is like turning on a switch! Once it is done the energy begins to flow. As the work develops, energy flows more abundantly, making the individual a channel in his environment. There is no question of the supply running out: it is infinite and unfailing. If one stops working, then of course the energy will stop flowing. But conversely, the harder one works, the more powerfully will it flow.
Men and women of goodwill are potentially the richest asset in every nation, and they can have tremendous influence when properly associated and focused. There are, of course, millions of people of goodwill today, but many are so burdened with uncertainty, with a sense of futility and a lack of clear vision and leadership, that they remain inactive. They need to be inspired, encouraged and shown how to use the powerful energy to which they have access. There is a great need for leadership based on goodwill. Collective action starts with the individual. One person making a stand for goodwill become a rallying point for other men and women of goodwill. A positive example is invariably the best call to action.
A group of people working together is much more powerful and effective than the sum of their individual contributions, because the energy of goodwill flows more abundantly through a united group than through its separated units. It is said that two people working together increase their united power to the strength of three, and that three people working together increase their united power to the strength of seven. And the strength of the energy flow will continue to increase in a geometric progression as new people join with the group.
To sum up, the energy of goodwill can be likened to a current of electricity. As with electricity, one needs to “plug in” and “switch on” before the current will flow. And just like electricity, it can be used in a number of practical ways to provide “light”, “warmth” and “running power” for the transformation of one's environment.
And again, using the electrical analogy, as one works with the energy of goodwill, an “electromagnetic field” or aura is set up in one's environment which is capable of attracting and orienting those who come within its radiatory influence.
GOODWILL DESTROYS BARRIERS AND BUILDS RIGHT RELATIONSHIPS
“Let inner union demonstrate and outer cleavages be gone.”
“The mobilisation of a trained group of men and women of goodwill is no mystical dream which waits for God to take action and which relies on the future to straighten things out.”
One effect of goodwill is that it reveals cleavages. Today there is widespread recognition of the existing cleavages in political, social, economic and religious life everywhere. There are cleavages between individuals, groups and nations. But this revelation of cleavages is accompanied by efforts to heal them. Today this is evident in the activity of thousands of groups and organisations working to pull down the barriers to right human relationships.
Thus in an approach to the problem of cleavages, goodwill manifests in three ways:
1. the revealing of cleavages,
2. the breaking down of barriers and separating walls,
3. the building of bridges to restore right and healthy relationships.
In building right relationships and healing cleavages we need to recognise another effect of a practised attitude of goodwill: the vision of new alternatives.
Our perception of the world, what we each identify as truth, is determined to a large extent by our values and attitudes. This may lead us to confuse partial truths for the whole truth.
Most cleavages result from individuals, groups or nations having opposed fixed ideas. An attitude of goodwill aids the recognition that the differences between fixed ideas are the result of differences in perception. This recognition opens communication to an inflow of new ideas and a freer exchange among people of diverse viewpoints.
Until now the effect of world public opinion has been felt in times of crisis in response to some single event. This outcry is usually a reaction against some wrong or injustice which has been committed or is about to be committed. As yet there has been no concerted effort to mobilise world public opinion for longer term goals or along positive lines. However, there are signs that public opinion is stirring, with recent reference to it as “a second superpower” appearing in the New York Times.
The hindrance to sustaining such a mobilisation is the absence of a strong tide in the interests of humanity as a whole. Efforts are mostly along the national, cultural or regional lines. Yet the larger interest or concern for the one humanity must be fostered if we are to meet the problems facing us as citizens of one world.
How is world public opinion to be organised along sound lines of goodwill? Some practical steps are possible:
1. look for similarities in problems appearing in two or more nations;
2. find out about solutions that have been offered in other areas – their success or failure;
3. search out those people and groups who spend their energy and money in educating and implementing programmes along creative and inclusive lines, rather than attacking the suggestions and personalities of other groups.
A first step in creating a dynamic public opinion is education in the goodwill activity going on in the world. Never before have there been so many groups and organisations striving to meet human need in constructive ways. The trend in human thinking towards a cessation of conflict indicates a great step ahead in human affairs. The procedures for resolving conflict are not yet fully active, but the tremendous aspiration toward harmony is slowly turning people away from separatism and divisiveness and towards the use of the energy of goodwill to build right relationships.