"Like all dreamers, I confused disenchantment with truth." Jean-Paul Sartre
It is easy to become resigned and cynical and lose faith that our dreams can withstand the gunmetal harshness of the world in which we live. Everyday, we are subject to an onslaught of negative events, images and encounters. The media provides a steady diet of violence, social and political upheaval and threatening economic news. In the face of such conditions, is it not inevitable to grow angry, depressed and discouraged?
These oppressive conditions require the resolve of a Visionmaker to face and overcome. They seek to demoralize us and turn us away from what has deep meaning in our lives– our visions, dreams and aspirations. The Age of Disenchantment may very well be the name given to these times unless we are prepared to take a stand to counter them.
The Visionmaker draws a line in the sand to combat disenchantment and calls forward all of the personal power he or she possess–that formidable combination of gifts, talents, knowledge, experience and willpower that funds full engagement. Without that irrevocably drawn line we meet disenchanting conditions at a disadvantage. Our lack of commitment renders us vulnerable and no good can come from such a poor leverage point.
No Visionmaker settles for the tyranny of circumstances. Ralph Waldo Emmerson hits the nail on the head in identifying the problem: "What is the matter with the world that is so out of joint? Simply that men do not rule themselves but let circumstances rule them."
It is easy to slip into the numbing paralysis of disenchantment. The world is filled with all the evidence you need to take the plunge. Disappointment is a normal part of every path. Resilience is necessary to face the trials and tribulations that come from seeing what is true and what is false in the world. Resilience is the ability to withstand and recover quickly from difficult conditions. It is funded by faith in your journey, trust in your own capacity to handle whatever you face, and optimism, the presumption that goodness will win out over time.
Dag Hammarskjold, the former Secretary General of the United Nations, offers us advice for those moments when we flirt with disappointment, disillusionment and disenchantment: "Is life so wretched? Isn't is rather your hands which are too small, your vision which is muddled? You are the one who must grow up."
As Sartre points out, "growing up" requires us to face the world as it is without succumbing to disenchantment. A Visionmaker sees everything–even difficult and disappointing conditions–as a challenge to grow. It is the only means we have to reenchant the world.
© Patrick O’Neill 2008. All rights reserved.