People can be committed primarily to themselves and their own causes – a business, the family, a sport, or hobby. In fact, that is where most people place their devotion and loyalty. You can live a life dedicated to mothering or gardening or making money, but what if you consider a commitment to the common good: to something that takes you out of yourself and into the realm of service.
Living a committed life is not about doing good so that you can feel good about yourself or look good to others. It is about answering a call that creates a new context for your life.
Living this way is guided by taking a stand and giving your word that you will live into that stand and have it shape your life. It requires keeping that commitment in the face of challenges by creating a context of possibility and transformation. You learn to pay attention, to train yourself to navigate the upsets and challenges and to learn from and be nourished by them.
We are now in a new era where the very survival of humanity and myriad other life forms is called into question. Having altered the composition of the planet’s atmosphere with ever-growing concentrations of greenhouse gases, having warmed the oceans and poisoned them with pollutants and plastics, having caused the extinction of unknown numbers of plants and animals – we must admit that we as a species are powerful. If we can create these massive changes, we can also stop them. But to do so will take many millions of us living purposeful lives: lives of commitment to the future rather than to our own comfort and desires.
Our dreams of a future where we could have meaningful work and relax, play, and maybe even roam this beautiful planet now seem elusive. The existential nature of our global crises – economic meltdowns, worldwide pandemics, global warming, species extinction, runaway inequality – means that much more is required of us.
We can transform our fear and anxiety into commitment and action.
That transformation is what interrupts and heals the fear, and it moves the dial on what is causing it.
In facing the dark shadows showing up in our polarized politics, we must confront our own darkness and heal our own hearts. So, in committing to a vision, a purpose larger than our own lives, we are freed from the smallness and pettiness of our own minds and catapulted out of anxiety and fear into inspired action. Rather than putting all our energy into trying to protect what we have, we can focus our imagination and our efforts on re-creating and regenerating all our human systems for the next phase of our evolution.
There has never been a time when we needed inspired action more than now!
If you are looking for where to focus your talent and energy, consider taking on ending hunger and poverty, changing the destructive dream of the modern world, generating effective action on reversing global warming, empowering women, and girls, or contributing to creating a more inclusive, fair, and ecological economy. There is so much to be done, urgently, but there is still time, and we can do it.
It is easy to slip into denial, depression, or hopelessness about the future. Yes, we face an uncertain future: yet what a time to be alive!
What we do collectively in the coming years will determine the future of the planet for perhaps thousands of years to come. That may sound daunting, overwhelming, or even burdensome. But this view ennobles our lives and gives us the opportunity to live the most meaningful lives any generation has ever had.
Let us inspire and motivate ourselves to look inside ourselves – ponder on our own role in creating the future we want for ourselves and for future generations. What is our role to play? It may be a big role, or it may be a small role, but if we play it, our life can have a meaning beyond what we have dreamed of.
Living a committed life will bring you an experience of great freedom and profound fulfillment, as well as unimaginable joy.