It’s not my job. Saving the world, I mean. It just isn’t my job. My job is to write books and share ideas. That’s what I do. It is quite enough for me, taking up most of my time and leaving me with a quiet sense of satisfaction. But for so many who come to hear me share my ideas found in the books I write, it just isn’t enough.
Case in point: At the close of a program on Interspirituality in Miami Beach, Florida, one passionate gentleman demanded to know why we (my fellow religion teachers and myself) don’t lead the peoples of the world in a global effort to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, free the wrongly imprisoned, and become the next judges on American Idol. He may not have said this last one, but that’s what I remember hearing anyway.
My colleagues were wise enough to smile, nod reassuringly, and look for a question more on topic. I, being less wise and not a little annoyed, took up the man’s challenge and gently and compassionately rammed my foot up his ass. Metaphorically speaking, of course.
“The very idea that six religion teachers can save the planet is symptomatic of why the planet needs saving. Sitting here and asking us to do what you should be doing is simply a way for you to self-righteously do nothing. You claim that there isn’t enough to food to feed the hungry? Nonsense. There’s enough food, but when we send it to countries that need it (countries other than our own where 14 million go hungry every day), we tend to filter it through warlords and racketeers who seem to be our friends but who actually use us to oppress their own people only adding to the hatred of us by those very people we want to help.
“If you want to fix the world why not start by ceasing to participate in the American Corporate War Machine and its quest for Empire? Why not stop voting for politicians who are in the pocket of Wall Street even as they bemoan the fate of Main Street? And even if you did stop the war machine and save the hundreds of billions we spend on war each year, do you really think we would spend it to help people? We didn’t help them before the war on terror and we won’t help them after the war on terror. Why? Because we don’t give a shit. Not all of us, but those of us that count; those of us who make policy, and those of us who vote for them. So don’t excuse your own complicity in the horror that is humanity by waiting for the six of us to save the world. Save it yourself, starting with yourself.”
A smattering of applause followed my outburst, and the man never spoke up again. At least this is my fantasy—that I silenced another pious blowhard who thinks the system that thrives on oppression could possibly bring an end to oppression. I love my job. I just wish people would let me do it.