A Change Is Gonna Come: A Personal Reflection By Justin Cook


By: Justin Cook

I stood out in the cold. The snow had just finished falling; East Lansing was blanketed in stillness. School let out a few days ago, and most people went home for the holiday season. You know, the season about family, love and the spirit of giving. A time when we can settle our differences and cozy up by a warm fire. It doesn’t matter what holiday you’re privy too-Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, the Winter Solstice, or Christmas-we all share in the celebration of life. Despite the rabid consumerism, I do believe there is a genuine kindness during the holidays. And as I stood outside, alone, with only the soft wind at my back, I felt eternal: blessed. Blessed to simply be breathing the crisp air, to be filled with an emptiness, ever-expanding. There was no war, no greed, no hunger or thirst; there was peace, freedom and an unmistakable feeling of transcendence and faith.

I strolled back in my heated house, cracking open a beer, and sat at the computer. Immediately sucked in: rude comments, trolling, politics, war, violence, school shootings, global protests, more war, passing blame, picking fights. My head began spinning; I got nauseous. The serenity I had just felt was ripped away. The backlight of my computer induced a splitting headache. Rolling over post after post, I couldn’t believe how people were treating each other. Everyday it seems to be getting worse. I clicked different articles, searching for positivity. But anything I found encouraging was ruined by the comments section: people spewing hate at each other, arguing over semantics, ridiculing others for their opposing beliefs. Pages full of disdain; void of compassion.

This is the world we live in. We’re all a part of it. And honesty, I really can’t take it anymore: the blatant disrespect for our fellow human, our sisters & brothers. It’s not productive. It’s not constructive. It fuels the beast that is the Corporate War Machine-we are consumed by our egos, blinded from our true nature. We spend all our time and energy pointing fingers at “the other,” when we should be looking into ourselves. Some people spend all day arguing politics via the comment box. Think about that: someone sitting at a computer, angry, frustrated, fighting with someone who is miles away, an illusion. We would rather sit around complaining how stupid people are, than change our own lives.

Recently the news has been almost unreal; the almost endless gun violence-including school shootings and senseless murders, from child to adult alike. We are in fear to even step out of our front doors. Sandy Hook shook me inside out. How? Why? I don’t believe it’s because of the T.V. or video games. I think something is disturbed at the core of our culture. We pick battles with anyone and anything in opposition to our beliefs. It’s not for our “safety,” it’s all about control. Women’s health rights have been under attack all across the country-the result of a power-hungry congress and backwards-ass-thinking. Here in Michigan, women have to purchase a rider on their insurance, just in case they get pregnant and need an abortion. This has nothing to do with the “right to life” argument-this is an attack against all females for a quick penny. These laws do not prevent abortions from happening; they simply give more money to insurances companies. On top of all this, a white 16-year-old can kill four people drunk driving and not get any prison time. Affluenza they say. What the fuck?

We are living in a world where women still fight for their reproductive rights, where a mother has no control over her own body, where women are shamed for being proud of their vaginas.

We are living in a world where racism is institutionalized to the point of invisibility, where people believe affirmative action cancels out white privilege, where racial profiling is running more rampant than ever.

We are living in a world where war is prized over education, where ignorance is encouraged and teachers are demonized, where legislators fight to keep science and critical thinking out of schools.

We are living in a world where the poor are treated subhuman, where we can’t spare a few dollars for those in need, where the wealth gap grows at an exponential rate, where money has enslaved us.

We are living in a world that looks more like a prison, fueled by consumerism and greed, where our politicians represent the wealthy elite, and continually pull the wool over our eyes with promises of “change.”

But we don’t have to live in this world. We can live in a world that WE THE PEOPLE create-not with legislation or massive protests, but with individual action. If we place the power back within ourselves, instead of handing it over to politicians, we can decide the future. Instead of picking mindless fights with your fellow human, we can go out to the streets, buy local, vote in local elections, plant gardens rather than build strip malls: voices full of conviction, paralleled in action. We must free ourselves from the shackles of our current reality, because anything and everything is possible-as long as we have faith. And not a faith in some breaded dude in the sky, but faith within ourselves and humanity as a whole. If we used all of our energy to drive society in a positive direction, instead of instigating arguments, I know the results would be priceless, unimaginable-people working together for the greater good.

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself” -Rumi

We, as human beings, have the collective energy to achieve anything. But in this day and age, we have forgotten our true purpose and power-we are illuminated beings of an infinite consciousness. We are beings of pure love, manifested in physical reality. Every single one of us carries the key, and together, we can unlock the secrets of the universe. But we have become deluded with ego, anger, hate and violence; we live in a world that is spiritual void. In Western culture, we are seen as machines, that have a mind and body. We laugh, and even ridicule, the idea of a soul. But let me tell you: we are missing an essential part of the equation. The soul is, dare I say, the most important part of the human experience.

Don’t let the world beat out your spirit. You are pure. You are beautiful. You are love. You are infinite and divine. Our society tells us otherwise, but you cannot buy into their lies. The longer you hide from your true nature, the longer the world shall live in misery. We must open our minds; our hearts must guide us. Love is all there is, and love is all there ever will be, and even though this is the most clichéd thing to say: LOVE IS THE ANSWER. It always has been (hence the cliché). If we can’t begin to love one another, we will never survive. Never let the love be beat out of you. Stand up, grow stronger, wiser, understand the infinity of your being and embrace what you truly are. For the good of yourself and all sentient beings.

Whether you believe it or not, a higher power does exist. You can call it God, or Allah, or Yahweh, or Buddha, or the Tao, or Logic, or Reason, or the Universe, or the Multi-verse-yes, these are all the same thing. We’ve been deceived by our own language and semantics, deceived by ego, but there certainly is a driving force behind us all. It exists: raw energy. For example, a fundamental Christian believes the Earth is only 6,000 years old. We know this isn’t true because of the scientific method, whether or not a Creationist believes it. It’s the same for a higher, spiritual power. Whether or not we want to believe it’s true, it is. It permeates everything, guides the forces of nature into the infinite. And the only way to truly feel that power, understand the power, come in contact with that power, is to have faith and reach your hands into the dark.

So let’s reach our hands into the dark together. All of us, no matter creed or color. We are all one under the tribe of humanity. Carve deep within the reservoirs of your heart and soak in all the light you can; let flowers grow deep within your soul. For you are the answer you’ve been looking for-and you always have been, always will be. The second coming of Christ is not a physical manifestation; it is a manifestation from within. It is the spirit, the essence, the being of love seeded deep within our hearts. It has nothing to do with religion-Christ is only a metaphor for humanity’s true potential. We can create Heaven on Earth, and it starts with believing. It starts with faith; faith in the unknown and faith in change. A single light can illuminate a world full of darkness.

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