Social reformers in America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries helped change for the better the treatment of juvenile offenders. Being housed with and treated the same as adult criminals during those times made for rampant abuse of young people; and in that extremely negative environment made most of these adolescents nearly impossible to rehabilitate.
So by creating separate reform schools for juveniles, where the goal was to create a better environment, free from the older hardened criminal elements, the goal of rehabilitation was pursued. But in spite of many noteworthy efforts over the years these institutions had only minimal success.
And why was that? I believe the main reason was that we put too much emphasis on outer conditions, and not enough upon our inner conditions. Let me draw some parallels for you to bring this into focus.
A couple of hundred years ago an old friend of mine said, "We have it in our power to begin the world over again." My friend’s name is Thomas Paine. And in his time he heralded an idea of political reform so radical that it turned the old world upside down!
He dared point out that the political sickness of the time was the distant self-serving, oppressive dictatorship of the English monarchy; and that the cure for this political disease could be accomplished only from within. And the result of this astonishing reform created for us the greatest political structure in the world today. We call it Democracy!
But it didn’t come into being without a tremendous and protracted battle. Perhaps you heard about it. It was called the Revolutionary War! And the fact that it succeeded against impossible odds reveals the Divine Hand aiding the creation of a new and better world.
Well, today we no longer use the word reform very much. It has a sort of straightjacket feel to it culturally. Nevertheless, it serves me well in bringing my thoughts to you today, because I’m thinking that the number one thing that all of us are here in this world to do is …to reform ourselves! In fact, I believe that our beautiful blue planet has been designated the cosmic reform school of our Milky Way Galaxy!
And just like in Thomas Paine’s time, effective improvements come from the inside out. But to think that they can be accomplished without a protracted battle is to be completely out of touch with reality! Just ask anyone who has successfully stopped smoking, for example!
But here’s the good news! Unlike the reform schools of the past with their iron bars on the windows, our blue-canopied reform school offers daily rehabilitation opportunities that really work. But the secret is that in order to access them you have to want to change your life for the better. You have to add two magical personal ingredients. You must add the catalysts of willingness and determination, and also recognize that there is a higher power and intelligence that is eager to help and support your right use of your free will in order to make yourself and the world we live in a better place to be.
And so in my talk with you today I acknowledge that I do not have specific answers on how to rehabilitate our various public and private institutions structurally. But I do know how to improve them energetically!
They all can be improved by each individual making the effort to build an interior life where he or she can learn how to first uncover and then release the debilitating emotional baggage from their past through the process of deep and honest introspection. And further, realize that the all caring, intelligent power that lights the sun, the stars and every human being is resident within each of us and is waiting for no more than a sincere and heartfelt call for help that you may receive Divine aid in your worthy desire for self improvement.
And lastly, remember this, that when you reform yourself you will have done your part in making this a better world!”
I’m John Johnston. See you next time, here, On the Cosmic Porch!