Ever wonder, “Am I the only one who’s seeing things this way?” Do you, as I do, have something in you motivating you to change the world for the better? Do you also feel as if everyone else seems to be “going along to get along” and is ignoring the big picture?
Many of us who possess this strong sense of purpose beyond the boundaries of our own lives have a “global view.” Where we got it is beyond me; it seems to be part of our wiring. We tend to see the big picture. We like to put the pieces of life together like a puzzle, looking at the interrelationship of parts to the whole. Integration is our ultimate goal.
When I entered the seminary at the age of 22 to become a priest I had sensed the need to bring Jesus’ teachings into relevance through the Catholic faith tradition. After five years of philosophy and theology my studies made sense and integrated my faith and its outward expression. It all made sense to me for a long time.
I often expressed myself with a kind of evangelical fervor, a passion for everyone within earshot to believe as strongly as I did. Through my published writings I set out a vision for how I thought the church could function better. I examined critically the confusion and distraction that had taken root in its mission. And I became increasingly frustrated with inaction on some central issues. Years later I’ve not been surprised to see how many of my predictions about the church have come true.
I hadn’t realized early enough that I was one of the few who shared a global view of the church. Most of those in hierarchical and administrative church positions were my polar opposites. Their mindset was so local as to create a claustrophobic and uninviting ethos that shunned any kind of critical examination. And they had a complete inability to explain or justify their positions beyond what their personal preferences dictated.
A global view also prompted me to get radical, even while embracing some of the more conservative church teachings. I wanted to get at the core of faith and the reasons why the church expressed itself as it did. I often asked “Why?” when presented with the latest and greatest program that was supposed to “renew” the faithful. I discovered rather quickly that those with a local view bristled at the notion of answering that very question.
This radical attitude did not endear me as a team player or as part of the clerical club. In time I realized that most of the church’s positions, especially on sexual ethics, needed a complete overhaul to be more closely aligned with the radical message of Jesus.
My experience is not unlike that of many in corporate life. After leaving ministry I discovered that my global view kept getting in the way of my jobs. And so I’ve trimmed my sails. I’m letting go of changing the world and focusing on changing myself. I will await the moment when my global view may be of value to someone and in the meantime I live in this moment.
You who have a global view: How have you been working out the conflicts you encounter with those having only a local view? What’s keeping you on track? What interior changes have you made to help you leave with greater peace?