'Those who wanted to change the world were certain to do great harm to it, while those who loved the world as they found it, those who shunned politics and theories, might discover in themselves a grace to match that of the sea; they might live a life that would be a beautiful line of calligraphy written not in ink, but in sunshine and mist, written in the wake carved in the water as you navigated the face of a wave, every trace of it gone with you when you left the planet, no stain or wreckage left behind.'
I would argue that people who truly love the world might leave it without wreckage or stain, but they won't leave it without a legacy. They will leave something behind; the results of their love and kindness will not go on with them, they will remain here as a testament of the power of good works done in humility for love's sake, rather than for change's sake.
When the agenda is change, people are lost in the shuffle and struggle, and the point of it all usually gets lost as well. But when we let go of our own designs and turn our attention to truly understanding the world and its peoples, to truly loving them instead of to 'fixing' them, we will in truth change them for the better in a profound way. In The Eighth Habit, Mr. Covey says when we try to fix people, try to solve their problems for them (my very loose paraphrase, but I'm listening to it on CD and it would be a booger to find the exact quote), we are taking away their power to do for themselves, and in 'providing' answers for them, we're only feeding their weakness. The point of this isn't that we should never give advice, but that maybe we should be giving gentle nudges of direction and encouragement, rather than laying out specific 'how to's.
This is something I have to change in myself, this impulse to fix people and solve their problems. It's so hard because as an unemotional bystander I can so clearly see what they should do! (And how very humble of me to think so.) But instead, I need to just love them without trying to change them. The fact is that they rarely do what I say they should, anyway, and even if they do, they aren't really changing, they're just following instructions. But if I love them, express my belief in them as people and encourage them to do right, my influence by love and example could very well be enough to lend them the strength they need to make changes for themselves.
Besides, not even God changes people without their desiring it; who do I think I am?
So, beginning today, I will strive to love without striving to change, to be nothing more than a friend and example of life lived fully, lovingly, powerfully and purposefully.