Make a Friend, Be a Friend, Lift a Friend Higher

If you think about my plan, it may seem to be like a magician’s sleight-of-hand trick in the following way: The world can become much better without anyone becoming spiritually transformed. In other words, if the people who can use superprograms do use them to spend five to seven hours a week working to improve the world, it doesn’t much matter what they do during the rest of their free time. For example, assuming this bothers you, they can watch trashy TV shows all day, or do crossword puzzles, or continue to gossip, or even loaf the rest of the day.

I can imagine that at the end of time, if someone were to weigh the good these people did versus the evil, on an earthly scale the good would outweigh the evil. However, spiritually speaking, many people would judge them as failing or as failing to grow. So it seems that as long as superprogram participants are strategic and work hard for five to seven hours a week, they don’t have to become better people or more mature.

Nevertheless, I believe superprograms will produce one kind of transformation. Imagine twin boys are born in the same ghetto. At the age of thirteen one joins a superprogram, perhaps Mission Ball, and the other doesn’t. After about a dozen years, these two young men will be living vastly different lives. The one has seen and experienced changes. Because he has skills, support and knowledge that the other doesn’t, he is living in a different mental world, a world with broader horizons and more opportunity. Compared to his twin, his life has been transformed. This happened through an educational transformation, not a spiritual one.

I could perhaps argue that educational transformation is a form of spiritual transformation. It really doesn’t matter here; the point is that superprograms can cause a profound personal change.

Besides educational transformation, I think that superprograms make use of another source of transformation: personal relationships.

To illustrate this, I will describe a Christian movement that relies on the power of personal relationships to help bring about spiritual transformation. I was a part of this movement for nine years. It’s called the Cursillo Movement. (In Spanish “Cursillo” means “short course.”) The Cursillo Movement has a formula: “Make a friend. Be a friend. Lead a friend to Christ.” Part of the meaning of the formula is that it isn’t very effective to preach religion to people you don’t know. Nor is it effective even to preach to your friends. What you need to do is first live an authentic Christian life. Then Make friends with people in natural ways. Then Be a friend by being loving and giving. Then, after prayer, and in ways that are not forced and fake, share your authentic faith, and how your personal relationship to Jesus has changed your life. This is Leading them to Christ.

The Cursillo Movement actually recognizes that authentic Christian love doesn’t always need to explicitly be religious or mention Jesus. If you are lifting someone to a higher ethical level, or if you are meeting their basic needs through charity, that is lifting them toward God, and in essence (if you are a Christian) toward Christ.

I mention Cursillo not to preach Christianity but to give credit to them because I have adapted their formula. My version is: “Make a friend. Be a friend. Lift a friend higher.” This is basically transformation through healthy relationships. But there is a conscious element to it. You are making friends because you eventually want to help people to a higher level.

Is there an element of manipulation here? Let’s examine this.

When I was in Cursillo, many people were uneasy about the formula. They detected insincerity and what they thought was manipulation. Were they to go out of their way to make friends, just so they could convert them? Wasn’t this unnatural?

One way to answer this is that if your faith is not authentically part of your life, then your efforts to convert will probably come across as phony. Also, if you don’t sincerely care about someone and empathize with his or her problems, it will come across as insincere.

So now let’s apply this wisdom to an earthly chain reaction of keeping people from suffering, and keeping humanity from destroying itself.

If you agree with the logic and ideas of my approach, but don’t have results, you may be doing great harm if you try to pass on the chain reaction to a friend. Why? They know you and they haven’t seen any improvement in you. They will be justified in thinking that you are simply caught up in a fad or a clever-sounding idea. You will probably achieve the opposite of what you intended. You will give superprograms a bad name in that person’s eyes. And the next time someone invites them to participate, even if the “inviter” has made major lifestyle improvements, the one approached may think, “Well, it doesn’t always work.” That, on top of the huge number of doubts that people already carry, may probably keep them out of the chain reaction.

Also, if you have results, but not a sincere caring and rapport for the person you are willing to support, then they may just see you as a devotee of another successful program. Since they don’t know how the program works, some people may even suspect that you will be paid for recruiting them, if they suspect that this is a multi-level marketing business. Or they may just feel that you have a quota.

These are reasons why sincere involvement and caring are a must.

I tend to believe that transformation through healthy relationships is spiritual transformation. Once I wrote:

The sun powers our physical world.
Relationships power our spiritual world.
Relationships are spiritual suns.

If that’s true, maybe superprograms can be a source of real transformation after all.

 


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