While trying to start a new container of disinfectant wipes my friend asked me, “I forget, do you start pulling from the middle or from the side?” “From the middle,” I reminded her. After I said those words to her, I chuckled to myself thinking that a lot of things, not just threading disinfectant wipes, start from the middle.
In addressing racism in the 2018 pastoral letter, Open Wide Our Hearts: Enduring Call to Love, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops said that “racism is a moral problem that requires a moral remedy—a transformation of the human heart—that impels us to act.” Strong words to be sure! And, they are words that I need to hear. So often, I think that big social ills such as racism, poverty, hunger, and violence are someone else’s issues, left for those in governmental leadership. But, no. The first step to addressing big things in the outside world starts from the middle in each of us.
I/We have a role to play in creating change in society that starts inside. Leo Tolstoy said that “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” We need to start from the middle, from within, if we want to make any sort of change in the world. Jesus told us that it is not the things from outside of us that have the greatest effect but rather those from inside of us (Mark 7:15) and that we should start with the speck in our own eye (Mathew 7:3-5). So, what can I do from within?
I can tend to my own personal development. I can take stock of who I am, what I think, and how I act. If I find that my inner self is not compatible to the heart of Jesus I can pray for forgiveness and conversion. If I find that I do not rightly understand an issue I can educate myself. If I find that I do not feel connected I can get involved and foster relationships. I can step out and risk being vulnerable. I can seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance and direction.
It starts from the middle.