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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Waiting on the World to Change

There is a song that I like a lot and it's entitled "Waiting on the World to Change" by John Mayer. But I confess that I'm a bit confused by the message. First, John says that he and his friends are being wrongly perceived as not standing for anything. The problem, says John, is not that they are not standing for anything, but simply that they lack the means to make any significant change. "It's hard to beat the system," says John, "When we're standing at a distance." So, they're waiting. Waiting for the world to change.

One of the things John and his friends want to change is to bring their neighbors home from war so that their neighbors do not miss a Christmas. So, presumably, John doesn't want any war in the world. Or, at least, he doesn't want anyone he knows to be a participant in any war - at least during Christmas!

Ultimately the song concludes with the reminder that one day John and his friends will be in power, and at that time they can make all the changes that need to be made. The "system" will be their system and they can do things the right way.

Now, I'm assuming that when John Mayer talks about "me and all my friends" he's talking about our generation. I say "our generation" because John Mayer and myself are close in age and a part of the same geneartion - Generation X as we have often been called over the years. This is a generation that often gets labeled as not believing or standing for anything. A generation somewhat apathetic in many regards.

Being a member of this generation I can relate to the apathy. I can also relate to feeling like "it's hard to beat the system," and feeling dissillusioned and disenfranchised. All of this I understand. But what I don't think I understand is how anything will ever change simply by waiting. Granted, John Mayer may be implying in his song that we will kick it into gear and make a difference once we get in to power, and that we really ought to make a difference in the meantime, but still....aren't we putting a little too much stock into "the system" and having too little faith in the actions of the individual???

For example, if you want to eliminate homelessness you could march on Washington and, of course, you could wait until you had the political power to outlaw homelessness, or you could simply wait on the world to change. But doesn't it make more sense to put your old jeans on, pick up a hammer, and head over to Habitat for Humanity to volunteer?
And if you want to eliminate hunger. Do we wait for the world to change? Do we wait on the government to solve our issues? Or do we head over to the soup kitchen and sign up to help feed those in need? We could wait for the world to change, or we could actually make the world change - one life at a time.

Of course, our generation really isn't interested in the hard work to make real and effective change. We would rather complain about politics or sit around at home and blog about how bad things are. But this just points to the primary problem that we have, which is that we believe we are entitled to possess everything without having to work for anything. It seems all too easy to blame the system for our problems and use this as an excuse to sit around and blog about what we think is wrong with the world. And all the while we're waiting. Waiting on the world to change.

John's MySpace - where you can play the song:
(It really is a good song!)