I listen to the "Thought for the Day" from Homeboy Industries often, and I caught a quote that Greg Boyle used in one of his former talks.
He said, "Only the soul that ventilates the world with tenderness has any chance of changing the world." I agree with that. I love the word "tenderness." It's a softening of the spirit, the gentle approach through acceptance and love, that brings ease to an encounter.
But I got caught on the meaning of the word "ventilate" as it applied in this passage. It means "to cause air to enter and circulate freely."
If we are to "ventilate the world with tenderness," it's easy to imagine this in the context of world peace, but a little harder when you're standing in line at the grocery store, tired as hell from a long day at work, and you just want to pay for your stuff and go home. But the woman three carts in front of you has twenty coupons and insists on carrying on a conversation with the checker while she says she's "sure I have exact change. Just give me a minute..." Then forgets she needed milk and would it be too much trouble for the kid bagging her groceries to just run and...
Yeah, ventilate that.
A soul, therefore, need not ventilate "the world" with tenderness. Rather, just ventilate the people in the line by saying to the person in front of you that keeps taking a deep breath and rolling his eyes, "it's OK, we are all in this thing together," or "that is such a cool tattoo on your arm. How long have you had that?"
Ventilation begins when your kid gets a "D," the cat threw up on your dress pants, and your spouse has nothing to say. It is the introduction of ease, releasing anger and replacing it with punctuated acceptance, noticing the tattoo on the guy's arm, Hershey Bars are now in caramel AND they're on sale, and the "D" isn't going to make all that much of a difference this time next year.
Ventilation allows love's oxygen to circulate. It cools our anger. It holds our soul in place.
So apply it to the little things, moment to moment. Go back to your breath every time you approach even the neighborhood of upset, and let that ventilation move through your nose, into your lungs, and deeply exhale gratitude for just being in this life with the checker and the lady and the spouse and the kid and the Hershey bars and the lady that is still up there counting her change.
Ventilate the world in front of you, and it will change for the better moment by moment, person to person, from one breath to the next.
That's how you change the world.
Now go ventilate.