You need a new plan

Ever catch yourself thinking the same thing in multiple situations and realize it’s one of those Big True Things About Life? Here’s one that’s recurring for me:

If your plan depends on controlling the beliefs (and consequently the actions) of other people, you need another plan.

Now think about this without escaping through the word “controlling.” Are you assuming the would-be controller is a bad person? Make them a good person, someone who cares deeply about a worthy cause. What is that person asking of the world?

In my experience, personal and organizational plans for “change” and “awareness” and “saving the world” usually boil down to everyone thinking and acting according to one set of values. That will never happen. We know from history that even total dictatorship can’t maintain uniformity for long. It’s not in the nature of things. No matter how hard you argue, campaign, rant, emote, reason – pick your verb. No matter how hard.

Wasted effort frustrates me. I’m tired of the disappointment it brings. I’m tired of dreams falling apart because the dreamer resisted practicality. How often do smaller, feasible solutions to specific problems fall by the wayside in the mad dash for the panacea?

Feed the person in front of you. Plug the hole you can reach. If everyone did that, we wouldn’t have to save the world.

If everyone did that…See? Even me!

11 thoughts on “You need a new plan

  1. I have literally never changed one person’s mind by arguing. This is why I no longer participate in online pro-life discussions. For my part, I put out the facts (including undeniable photos) on Lost Innocents and without it even being an overtly pro-life website it has changed people’s minds.

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    1. Yes, I think people only change their own minds. There’s something faithful and healthy, in my mind, with your approach – to make what you are called to, to put it into the world, and let it serve where it will. I don’t think we ever fully know the impact of our actions. We only see the outsides of other people. Even when an action is direct and we are present for it, we don’t know the full outcome.

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  2. Very good advice that I did NOT follow yesterday as I screamed at some people who I desperately disagreed with on Facebook about an issue. After detoxing myself from social media because I got into ridiculous arguments with people who don’t really care and won’t change their mind because of me, I back slid. Their responses just broke my heart and I was so flabbergasted I felt like I had to say something. But did I really have to say something? No. Let them go and let God work on their hearts. That’s what I have told myself before but there I was, on Facebook for something else and immersing myself in ridiculousness. So, I’m back on a social media break because my heart just breaks at what I see on there.

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    1. That’s a constant struggle on Facebook!! A major reason why I’m back in the blog world is my weariness with the onslaught of angst and insanity. I run a platform for work so I can’t jump off completely, but I love having somewhere else to be.

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    2. It’s hard some days. I have heavily edited my Facebook main feed by unfollowing anyone who regularly posts things I don’t want to see: a lot of politics, a few other things. There’s no use even looking at it. Also, I spend most of my time on Facebook in groups, not skimming my feed. Also, I can take or leave Facebook, and most of the time it’s better if I just go do something else.

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      1. Actually, I had unfriended so many people and was doing well at not getting wrapped up in the drama. I can’t believe I fell off the wagon, so to speak. Just tired and annoyed at people this week. … though that is no excuse. But I’ve been on Facebook less and less and I am much happier when I am off it.

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  3. I have been reading “Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives: The Life and Teachings of Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica.” Your post reminds me of something he says more than once about how valuable prayer is, and the value of becoming a person of peace, not just to the self but to everyone else around oneself. Here is one of those sayings:

    “If there were just one such person in every company, factory or office! That would be the way toward peace. Only one person who is prayerfully connected to God is needed, and we will have peace everywhere–in the family, at work, in the government, and everywhere. It is in the presence of such a person that we are freed from gloomy and cumbersome thoughts.” (p. 94)

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  4. No, you can’t change other people. You can only change yourself. Sometimes all it takes for someone to change is seeing that someone disagrees, that it is an option to be different. But sometimes it is harder.

    I have many things I would like to change about myself but which seem impossible even with great effort. If I can’t change myself how can I hope to change someone else?

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  5. The 12 Step programs are based upon this. While attending a CODA meeting, someone was said “controlling someone is just like thinking you can take your arm and move the car from in front of you who had just cut you off” 😄 So true!

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