Are we part of the solution or just part of the problem?

Stacy Hope Small
5 min readJun 18, 2018

Growing up, we had a hand-painted sign over our family room door that said “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.” This theory — which my favorite spiritual teacher/author Marianne Williamson spoke about this weekend in San Diego on her “Love America” tour, was something burned into my brain at a young age. It’s funny since we weren’t in any way, shape or form “spiritual” as a family, but somehow this was an important value that I always recalled and carried with me through to how I run my personal and business lives decades later.

I guess I wasn’t ever supposed to complain about anything I didn’t have a solution for, but truthfully what kid understands this? And, how many people in general follow this smart, spiritually-fueled (a la Wayne Dyer “There is a spiritual solution for every problem) style of advice? According to Marianne, we can all do a much better job of “doing” something to resolve the serious problems facing our country…similar to how abolitionists got into obliterating slavery and how the women’s suffrage movement changed history. She gave us a good history lesson in the importance of stepping out of our own shadows and away from our fears and individual traumas to collectively pull together for the sake of our democracy.

Not all 700 who turned out to hear her in Encinitas’ Seaside Spiritual Center on Friday evening were in favor of her strong passionate beliefs, but I was captivated and mesmerized by her every word. I’ve tried, like many, to peacefully push the topic of politics away from the forefront of my daily life. I’ve not proactively been part of any specific movement to effect change because I’ve not seen/felt it would make a difference. But, as that sign in my house said, you have to be part of the solution or remain part of the problem. She got me thinking how I can do small things like donate $5/month to world hunger organizations, volunteer in local elections and use my social media channels to voice and share my efforts to inspire others to do the same. Spiritual, hardworking, passionate women are in a position to “be the biggest grown ups in the room” said Marianne. We need to get past our own BS and be part of the solution to anything that appears to be a problem. Recommitting to daily meditations on “How can I serve?” and following through with the answers that come my way is another way I can personally partake in the need for global change.

We also, funny enough, had a sign hanging in our house over the front door that said, simply: “Shalom”. I found it recently and put in my own house here in San Diego next to my favorite Buddha. It’s a funny reminder of my childhood home, as I can visualize exactly where it hung for years. I didn’t actually know the literal tranlation of Shalom was Peace until recently; I always thought it was more of an all-purpose greeting similar to the Hawaiian Aloha. I’ve always had an affinity for peace signs, on artwork, jewelry, t-shirts, even a tattoo….as constant reminders of what’s truly most important. I can’t say that our household was always “peaceful” but being forced to confront traumatic losses and grief over and over has instilled in me the overwhelming desire to put inner peace at the top of my own priority list as life challenges have hit me left, right and center. This is still an ongoing challenge which comes from straddling the so-called “peaceful” spiritual world and the not-always-so-friendly business world as a female entrepreneur. But, that’s life.

I don’t always have it all figured out. Ha. I wish. As Reverend Christian Sorenson spoke of in his moving Father’s Day sermon at the Seaside Spiritual Center today, when we have it all figured out we will no longer be here (on earth). We are here to work through the challenges, face them with grace, trust in the higher power and believe in our beliefs that whatever happens is an opportunity to learn lessons, grow and become a kinder, more compassionate, stronger and happier version of ourselves. That resonates to such a high degree with me as I’ve been challenged the past few weeks with excruciating neck and shoulder pain. Knowing that it’s an energetic symbol of unresolved conflict with a family member along with carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders (according to several healers), it’s been a struggle to get through the days without letting small things piss me off. I found myself having to apologize to a few people last week for overreactions to things they said and did that I’d otherwise typically brush off. But, when you’re in terrible physical pain, not sleeping well for weeks and getting frustrated at the lack of relief, it’s (I’m told) not unnatural to slip off the spiritual path and have to reset and refocus on becoming part of the bigger long-term solution. The importance of forgiveness…of others and also myself…on occasions when saying “I’m sorry” feels counterintuitive to what I really feel is the other big lesson that matches up with the “If you’re not part of the solution you’re part of the problem.”

As Marianne reminds us in her books/teachings, physical pain in the body is a shout-out to that part of us that’s overthinking solutions instead of letting go completely of what’s causing the brutal pain that leads us to slipping off the path to peace and love. Letting go of toxicity, anger, grief, disappointment, confusion and whatever else isn’t serving our highest and best interest is the ONLY answer based on everything I’ve read, studied and am doing my absolute best to put into practice on a “Work in Progress” basis. As Marianne says often: “Only love is real. Anytime you choose fear over love, you end up in pain and not in a place of knowing peace and joy. Commit to love. Choose joy.”

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Stacy Hope Small

Founder & CEO: Elite Travel Club | Author: Why Not Me?!? | Now Bay Area-based and writing the sequel: A Little Bit Spiritual, A Little Bit CEO.