At a recent conference, a fellow Ignatian educator and I were walking to the cafeteria for lunch, caught up in a passionate conversation about all our big, incredible, pie-in-the-sky educational ideas. We were on quite a roll. We were solving problems left and right and spelling out all the steps of our perfect plans. When we arrived at the lunch line, he turned to me and said as a way of capping off our conversation, “If I only ruled the world, right?” And then he added, “But I don’t, and thank God for that!”
His offhand remark left an impression in my mind. Ever since, whenever I find myself going off on an “I just know better” tangent, I eventually cut myself off by saying, “If I ruled the world…but I don’t, and thank God for that!”
I am by nature a passionate and creative person. When I get on a roll problem-solving, I can really get on a roll. I can go on and on about all the ideas in my head and inadvertently elevate myself to the ultimate problem-solver. In turn, when I get angry at some way of proceeding that someone has introduced that I don’t agree with, I can go on and on about how I would do it differently and how I would do it better.
Maybe my reaction is just a consequence of being human. Maybe it’s just a consequence of being this particular human. But it’s not really reflective of how I feel deep-down inside. The truth is, no matter how creative or passionate I am, no matter how angry or unsettled I get by something, I don’t really believe deep-down inside that I have all the answers.
I know that it’s sometimes the way I can come across, however. Perhaps it’s the way that many of us can come across when all we really want is to be a part of something worthy. Maybe it’s the way we all have the potential to come across when our desire to make a difference, to use our voice, and to be a part of something great can no longer be contained.
My friend’s perhaps quite random comment is now a permanent part of my inner monologue (and sometimes my outer one as well). I repeat it as a way to ground myself in who I am in the deepest parts of me. I repeat it to remind myself that, of course, I know there are good people already doing good and worthy work, and I am blessed every time I get to do good and worthy work alongside them.
And I repeat it to remind myself that there is always someone in charge—and it will never be me, and it will never be you.
If I ruled the world…
Well, I don’t. God does. And thank God for that!