Joy is Contagious (So is Love)

March 20, 2019

By Ward Allan Yont

In my classes I’m quick to remind my students that although they may very well hear me say things that they’ve never heard before, I’m not there to teach them anything they don’t already know. I’m there to remind them of the things in life that they’ve forgotten that are important and meaningful while emphasizing their value through a series of scenarios and models. I suppose these blogs serve to do the same.
Laws must be communicated if they are to be helpful. In effect, they must be translated for those who speak different languages. Nevertheless, a good translator, although he must alter the form of what he translates, never changes the meaning. In fact, his whole purpose is to change the form so that the original meaning is retained.” (p.115:4:1-4, ACIM)
As my student’s minds reawaken to this greater truth, it follows that through interactions, the minds of others will be awakened as well and experience a quieting of the mind.
Joy is contagious and when those of us who lack joy encounter those who have it, they’re intrigued. When this happens in a prison setting it’s even more intriguing. Like love, when we share this joy with others we experience a sense of liberation. Everyone is seeking better ways to live, and these principles I now live by and teach are a way others can live and bring themselves to a better life.
“Many stand guard over their ideas because they want to protect their thought systems as they are, and learning means change. Change is always fearful to the separated because they cannot conceive of it as a move towards healing the separation. They always perceive it as a move toward further separation, because the separation was their first experience of change.”
(p.53:2:1-3, ACIM)
All good teachers realize that only fundamental change will last, but they do not begin at that level. Strengthening motivation for change is their first and foremost goal. It is also their last and final one. Increasing motivation for change in the learner is all that a teacher need do to guarantee change.” (p. 106-107:2:1-4, ACIM)
The process of healing and saving the world is a huge task and will likely take some time, due to our collective unreadiness. We want and demand convenience and expediency; we’re a driven, highly preoccupied society, and it will take a long time to undo our destructive attachments to things that ultimately don’t matter, but we can improve the process exponentially with earnest intent and attention to the spirit.
Awakening such errant minds to a greater truth takes discipline and clean living before we get to the teaching of forgiveness, compassion, and love. Remember, we’re trying to implement an intimate fatherly/authoritarian model where there was none, with a consistent assertion and demonstration of wholesome values.
“Now you must learn that only infinite patience produces immediate effects. This is the way in which time is exchanged for eternity. Infinite patience calls upon infinite love, and by producing results now, it renders time unnecessary.” (p.88:12:1-3, ACIM)
I’m not the only one out there with this vision of healing and a desire to save the world; there are many others. Ultimately it will require the combined effort and commitment of everyone to improve the human condition, but it won’t happen just through teaching, sound communication, and behavior modification. Responsible parenting plays an integral role as well, including the responsibility of perhaps not bringing a child into the world until one finds him or herself financially and mentally able to do so. After all, preventing foreseeable hardship upon one’s self and child is a very loving thing to do.
Parents have their own fear-based/lower level needs and recognize them in their children, and in times of crisis, sometimes parents abandon their fundamental responsibility. If it hasn’t occurred to you by now, I’m trying to place responsibility into the hands of those who can do something about it-us.
Even though we have little or nothing to do in our incarcerated lives, “Lifers” have a certain sense of responsibility to make our existence livable, to keep our sanity and survive over the long haul. Not all lifers recognize the “curriculum of love” as a compelling, necessary global movement, but they should, as they can play an important role in mentoring incarcerated young men who had no male role model.