For the past year and a half, I’ve struggled with how I could become better. A better person, a better father, a better spouse, friend, and steward of my community.
I’ve reflected on my mistakes, successes, family, friends, and vocation.
As an artist, I’ve attempted to observe the world, translate it, and recreate it in beautiful terms.
I’ve watched the news and been shocked at our readiness to capture and observe and accept. To some degree, it even paralyzed me.
On one hand, I knew that the events were a shade of the story, on the other, I could see the underlying truth in the stories.
I tried to balance what I was seeing and feeling by detaching myself from it all – by scrolling through the feeds on Facebook as if I was flipping through channels on tv.
I tried to balance the information as if I was standing on top of the tallest building, overlooking the city, somehow apart from the people and our shared experiences.
The point I’m trying to make is that my struggle for the past year and a half was one of being disconnected, trying to understand it all, and looking for solutions, one could even say a revolution, that was rooted in politics, or culture, or art.
And now I know that I was missing the mark because the solution is a spiritual revolution. A revolution of the heart.
America is at a fork in the road.
And as we enter early adulthood, as a country, we’re being faced with the growing pains of responsibility, tolerance, temperance, and change.
These pains can’t be simply reduced to a certain administration, religion, race, gender, or economic status. It’s more complex than that.
We, as a country, are standing where our heart has led us.
All of us.
And the more I reflected, I saw that while we were working, protesting, dreaming, struggling, surviving, living, and dying – we were neglecting our heart. Our connectedness to human beings. Our family. Our neighbors. Our friends. Our food. Our earth. Our water. Our Selves.
Everything has a threshold or boiling point, and we’re at that place now. And this is a place where there are only 2 options: to break or to mend.
If we choose to “break” – we must only continue walking as we have been.
If we choose to “mend” – we must have a spiritual revolution. A revolution of the heart.
When a country that has historically held onto religion as a pillar of its society, have record numbers of people leaving its churches, cathedrals, mosques, synagogues, etc. – that speaks to a growing consensus amongst the people that it’s no longer serving its needs.
My point isn’t to argue the validity or necessity of religion, but to speak to the void, the spiritual void, that people have been increasingly feeling. The numbers don’t lie.
But more importantly, this void is being filled with materialism, individualism, and technology – and it’s not working.
If anything, they reinforce disconnect, isolation, fear, distrust, and overall anxiety that permeates our society.
A society that was at the forefront of science, technology, industry, and invention.
A society that exported some of the most beautiful art, music, and culture to the world.
A society that people from distant lands would die trying to gain access into, to make a better way for themselves and their family.
Now, we must remember the good qualities and discard the bad. We, as a young adult, have a point of reference now.
We must learn from our mistakes of racism, classism, sexism, and narcissistic tendencies to bully, destroy, categorize, and differentiate ourselves from other human beings. Our family. Our friends. Our neighbor. Our food. Our earth. Our water.
To survive, we must remember that the virtues of truth, honesty, love, compassion and service to others is the pathway to heaven in this world, and the next. That connectedness is the key to filling the voids that we are experiencing, as a nation.
A spiritual revolution is not based on your color. Or gender. Or faith. Or, how much money you do, or do not, have.
A spiritual revolution doesn’t require a degree, or skill set, or specialized education.
A spiritual revolution only requires two things: 1) a willingness to love, and 2) a willingness to be loved.
And in Love, we find God.
I have faith that there are enough of us to turn the tide.
I have faith that we’re intelligent enough to tap out when we’ve had enough pain.
I have faith that we care enough about our children that we’ll be willing to do the most uncomfortable thing, which is to change, so that they may live in a world of peace and prosperity.
I have faith that we’ll balance human connection with technology to make our lives more efficient.
I have faith that we’ll love ourselves enough to be able to love another – that we’ll see a part of us in everyone.
I have faith that we’ll no longer be imprisoned in boxes of race, gender, religion, orientation, class, or culture.
I have faith that we’re having a spiritual revolution.
Most importantly, I have faith in Love – where God is found.
And in closing, I have faith in you, and me.
– Nik Ridley (2-27-18)