Is it possible to heal yourself when the world around you needs fixing? Read this excerpt from Marianne Williamson's Healing the Soul of America to find out why it's vital to help the many while also working on yourself.
Many people are going around today saying, “In any situation, I just ask myself, ‘What would Buddha, or Jesus, do? What would the Torah tell me to do, or the Koran, or the New Testament?’” Thinking about such things is a perfect test, reading the news today. Would Jesus, if he were a citizen of the richest nation on earth, choose to feed the poor or fatten the rich? It’s certainly an interesting question.

All of us are better off when contemplation of holy principles is at the center of our lives. But it is in actually applying those principles that we forge the marriage between heaven and earth, while merely dwelling on principle falls short of the human effort needed to carry out God’s will. Just as we need the light of the sun—but looking straight into it can blind us—looking straight into the inner light can begin to blind us as well.

There is a point in everyone’s spiritual journey where, if you are not careful, the search for self-awareness can turn into self-preoccupation. There is a fine line, at times, between self-exploration and narcissism. One way to see how we’re doing is to measure the fun factor: spiritual growth that’s too much fun all the time usually isn’t growth at all. Anything that has become too comfortable cannot ultimately be comforting. The universe is invested in our healing, and healing is a fierce, transformative fire. It is the product of human willingness to change, and change is often hard.

For years, I thought I only had to heal myself, and the world would take care of itself. Clearly we must work on healing our own neuroses in order to become effective healers. But then, having worked on our own issues a while, another question begs for an answer: how healed can we ultimately become while the social systems in which we live and move, and have our earthly being, remain sick?

Years ago, we realized that people’s psychology is intimately bound up with the psychology of their family units. Today, it is very clear that the family, too, dwells within a larger psychological system. It’s not just our childhoods or families whose dysfunctions influence us; our education system, government, and business structures are often dysfunctional as well, and in a manner that affects us all. None of us lives in isolation anymore, from anyone or anything.