Wise Words – What Would You Do if You Had the Power of God?

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If God would concede me his omnipotence for 24 hours, you would see how many changes I would make in the world. But if he gave me his wisdom too, I would leave things as they are.”

J.M.L. Monsabre


What would you do if you could wave a magic wand and change anything in the world? Stop war, cure cancer, end racism, feed every hungry child, shelter those living on the streets?

It is a tempting thought experiment. I look at the evils and suffering in the world and I weep. Of course, I say to myself, I would use my powers to bring them to an end. And yet Monsabre tells us this is power but not wisdom, that he would leave things as they are. Why?

His quote reminds me of a folk tale I heard long ago. The people of a village were given a choice. They could change their world so there would be no death. No one in the village would age or die, they would live exactly as they are forever. But the choice would mean that no children could be born and no one would grow. They were given until dawn to make their decision.

The villagers debated the question long into the night. Was the change worth it? To end death would be a miraculous gift. But to lose the process of birth and growth, the very activity of life, would be a disastrous loss. After much heated argument back and forth, filled with passionate speeches and deep listening, they realized what they had to do. At dawn, the villagers announced their decision. They would reject the offer and live life as it was.

I am fascinated by this story. At first, the choice to escape death, our greatest fear, seems obvious. But upon reflection, we realize that death is just one step in the glorious process of living. It all comes together as a package and the greater gift is not to stop the process but to live all the steps gracefully, aging and learning as we go and, yes, to experience death and grapple with the question of what it all means. Like the villagers, we come to realize that to end the evolutionary process is worse than death itself.

But acceptance of things as they are is just the first stage of wisdom. If the evils of the world are to change, it will come through our own evolution as humanity, not through magical powers. We already have, right now, the means to make the changes we want. As a people, we have the collective resources to eradicate hunger, to end war. What we lack is a collective vision of ourselves that realizes our interconnectedness and the mutuality of our suffering. To call upon the powers of God to solve our common predicaments is a kind of escapism that bypasses our own growth.

The change we need first is internal, a transformation of consciousness. This is what Monsabre and the villagers are calling us toward – to become ever more aware of the depth of our connection and the power of compassion to change how we see and act. I think we shy away from this kind of expanded awareness because to enter here means to feel the suffering of so many, an ocean of pain that makes us turn away and numb ourselves to the blatant fact of our connection.

But to turn away is another kind of escapism. Ultimately, this is part of the universal mission of a human life, to feel the suffering of the world and be moved to act toward its healing. This is the work of transformation and it only happens through the intention, awareness and compassionate action of all.

It’s a big job. Outrageous. But we need to remember that the ocean is made of drops. No matter how large the problem, our intentions and actions add up. The work of transformation changes us small bits at a time, making possible the larger changes we want to see in the world.

3 Replies to “Wise Words – What Would You Do if You Had the Power of God?”

  1. Beautiful Steve and for me so aligned with a theme that has been presenting itself lately to me, bringing awareness to the very miracle of our incarnation into a life on Earth, full of possibility and experience to keep diversifying the expression of light, love and truth to know ourselves and all that is.

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