Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Have you lost hope that people can change?

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
May 10, 2023

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These are troubling times we live in. That is one thing most of us agree on. It is easy to lose hope that people can change and want to repair the rift instead of making it wider and deeper. The problem is not in the fact it happened but in our own desire to change what is.

Impossible Transformations: How Do People Change?
People’s Minds Are Often Not Led By Reason or Facts
Research shows that, despite public belief, people’s minds are often not led by reason or facts. Instead, forces like confirmation bias and group membership shape their judgment and belief systems. TedX
The article went on to add,
“Agreeing with the group stimulates the reward pathway; trying to defy the group stimulates many of the same brain regions that fire during drug withdrawal,” the article states. This stimulation explains why and how people can believe so strongly in anti-science beliefs that are supported by group membership rather than founded on fact or reason.
People can change and we've seen evidence of that in negative as well as positive ways.

In the same article, there was this video worth watching if you are seeking some proof.
Gerardo Lopez grew up in gang territory in Los Angeles, California, and was just 14 years old when he joined MS-13, the notorious Salvadorian gang. Why did he join and why did he leave? In this courageous talk, Gerardo reveals how we can help others get out and stay out of gangs. Gerardo "Clever" Lopez has worked in gang intervention for over two decades. Formerly of the notorious Los Angeles gang MS-13, Gerardo escaped gang life and now ensures that at-risk youth from making the same mistakes. He is the Executive Director of the Denver chapter of Homies Unidos, a nonprofit dedicated to ending violence and promoting peace through gang intervention and prevention. Gerardo is an avid baseball fan waiting for the Dodgers to win the World Series, and the subject of the award-winning, short documentary CLEVER. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community.

If you want more, then a perfect example of this is Saul of Tarsus. Most people know him as Saint Paul. He went on the preach to and reach the Gentiles. None of what he accomplished would have been possible if God and Jesus gave up on him. They knew his soul and his intentions well enough to keep trying to get through to him.

He was hunting down followers of Jesus after He returned to heaven. He went with "group membership" and was regarded as heroic in his endeavors to eradicate the heretical believers. According to all accounts, he was filled with joy as they were being executed.

Saul Makes Trouble for the Church
At that time the church in Jerusalem suffered terribly. All of the Lord's followers, except the apostles, were scattered everywhere in Judea and Samaria. 3 Saul started making a lot of trouble for the church. He went from house to house, arresting men and women and putting them in jail.
He was convinced that the group of people he belonged to were right and it was all reinforced by his belief that he was serving God. After all, his friends admired him and his dedication to killing off the followers of Jesus. That is until he was made to understand how blind he was on the road to Damascus.
The Damascus Road: Saul Converted
9 Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

3 As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. 4 Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”

5 And he said, “Who are You, Lord?”

Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”

6 So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?”

Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

7 And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one. 8 Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. 9 And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

After he was able to see clearly, most of the people he knew turned against him as he turned closer to God and what he was supposed to do, and was forgiven for all he had done. Was he perfect afterward? No. God does not require perfection from anyone.

All this goes to show that human nature has not changed since the beginning of time. Our thoughts have changed. Our beliefs changed. Our view of the world changed. What has not changed is our ability to change ourselves.

No matter how rotten you see others, consider the simple fact that people doing bad things make the news no matter where you live. There are still more good people in the world and many of them, as you watched in the video above, changed their ways and then went on to help others find their way to change as well. It is all choices we make to do or ignore.

People, like Saul, were led to believe the lies and it was up to him to believe the truth or insist on following the mob rulers and make people suffer for the lies they spread.

What do you do when you need to choose between what you know is right, truthful, and honorable while everyone you know acts against what you know in your soul is wrong and terrible? Do you find the courage to stand up and walk away from them or do you stay with them while they continue to infect your soul? Are you avoiding allowing the miracle that is waiting for you to make you the best person you can be? 

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