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What if we were told as young children how gifted we are instead of being told we are sinful creatures needing spiritual guidance every step of the way to reach Salvation? What if our talents and proven skills were recognized early in life by the teachers and mentors in our lives to apply them where they are most needed?

Research was conducted in a school setting telling a teacher that the students assigned to her were gifted when in reality they were children with learning issues. Given that data, the teacher challenged the students to grow based on her expectations (her mindset) of them. To everyone’s surprise, these children rose to the occasion and excelled beyond expectations. This is the best story on mindsets I could imagine, and applicable to us and the journey we are beginning.

The person who had the greatest imprint on my mindset was my Mother; I am an only child. She guaranteed that I never felt less than. She did when she was young because her parents were immigrants struggling with discrimination for being Polish. My mindset came from a deliberate attempt to expose me to skills that built my courage and confidence.  My extra training besides high school was taken at the Patricia Stevens Modeling School to learn how to dress, speak, walk, and eat. That training was to prepare me to be fully prepared to do the right things in the right places, at the right times. 

Then, I was enrolled in a Dale Carnegie Course on public speaking because I appeared to be a bit shy as a teen and didn’t speak up in classes. Mom put on her cape and had me admitted to this weekly meeting where I was to give speeches to a class of adult men, a couple who were CEOs. At first, I was paralyzed with fear but as these men spoke, I convinced myself that I could do that and maybe even better resulting in three awards.

Since I was the first child, grandchild, and niece, I was the recipient of a lot of attention and love.

What if…others grew up in a similar way? What if their home life was strong, healthy, and supportive and they were raised to proactively actualize the gifts they had or remediate the gifts that they struggled with? Our world would be different, perhaps.

On the flip side, as a Catholic, I grew up in a faith I loved so much that I attended daily Mass because it was my decision. I have always been enamored by the faith I learned to cherish but What if…the Catholic Church de-coupled the institutional Church from the simple faith of Jesus Christ and declared them separate and distinct?  What if we leave the remodeling of the Vatican structures and systems to Pope Francis since he was elected by his brother bishops to fix it? He is doing an incredible job, in my opinion.

Faith is a powerful tool to help rewrite our mindset giving us a new window on life and its potential. That mindset becomes our worldview and we unconsciously bring it to every discussion and observation. We, at the Peoples Synod, invite you to look inside at that mindset and where and how it developed as the engine of all that we do and not do. We believe we were created for a purpose, much like St. Francis of Assisi was.

Jesus called out to St. Francis when He said, “Rebuild my house, for it is falling into ruins.” The same could be said about the American culture; it’s a mess with no values, no direction, with no common good being served anywhere.

What if we are being called at this moment to examine the challenges ahead, search for root causes (no longer symptoms), and develop plans that heal the souls of our country? Massive change, the literature tells us begins with the micro, not the macro. We must begin with the people, not the organizational issues that many choose to pursue. 

We have one foot in two warring cultures.  It’s impossible to straddle forever. We need a new identity that integrates who we are, what lived experiences have we encountered, and what would be an ideal to co-create. The age of robotics is for intelligent machines only, not humans sitting idly as the world morphs into the unthinkable.

The Peoples Synod actively follows Jesus’ simple teaching and continues to grow by educating ourselves in Scripture’s application to lived experience. Our faith lives will be enriched and we invite one and all on this journey to engage in a personal transformation, a familial transformation treating one another as gifted individuals, and in our formal and informal communities to help us cope, learn, and grow in this dynamically changing world.

What a wonderful thought it is that some of the best days of our lives haven’t even happened yet!

Anne Frank

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