I Want To Change The World

It’s just a small job.  I’m not over-estimating my abilities.  Rather I am just taking Gandhi’s words to heart:

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

― Mahatma Gandhi

If I want change, I have to start with me.  Gandhi also says:

“Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.”

― Mahatma Gandhi

I like that.  He puts it into perspective.  Of course I can’t change the world all by myself.  But I can make a start in my corner, and hope it catches on.

When I start talking of wanting to change the world, I often get told things like

“don’t watch/read that stuff.  It’s too upsetting”

“one person can’t make a difference”

“you’re too soft”

“you’ll drive yourself crazy trying to change what can’t be changed”

Actually those thoughts are what drive me crazy and get me upset.  Because I can make a difference and I refuse to believe that inserting some compassion and kindness into this world is beyond each one of us.  What’s more, how do you tell the victims of our dis-compassionate world that it’s just too big to fix?

Where does my passion for changing the world come from?  Simply having my eyes and ears open.  It is heartbreaking to see and hear what we do to fellow humans, and other creatures.  I could just choose not to watch/read but I don’t think that’s the answer.  I feel uncomfortable and sometimes distressed by what I see and read, but that is minimal to what the victims experience.  Sometimes a little uncomfortable is a good thing, even though it might not feel so great at the time.

Last night I watched a documentary about African elephants and their demise because of ivory poaching.  They had set up an elephant orphanage for those young who had tragically been left without parents.  They keep the elephants in the orphanage until they’re old enough to fend for themselves.  But what will happen when they are released, and the poachers are still operating?  In the documentary the experts  predicted that in 20 years there will be no elephants left on this planet.  I’m guessing that applies to Asian elephants too.  Do we want a world with no elephants?  I don’t.

Last week I read of an eleven year old who committed suicide, as a result of bullying.  Eleven!  I have a ten-year old nephew so that’s pretty close in ages.  It makes me stop and think, what if it were my family?  Eleven year old’s are still children.  They shouldn’t have to even know about the dark side of our world, let alone be choosing to opt out of it.  How does a family recover from that?  How do her friends recover from that?

And as I have been writing I see an update has come in on a story I read a few weeks ago.  Suicide baiting.  I admit I had no idea that such a thing existed (beyond the movies maybe) until I read an account of a mother whose son committed suicide in 2010, while about 1000 people watched, and some egged him on.  How do you live with that if you’re the mother?  A judge has just ruled that no one was culpable.  That must be a very hard one to live with, now that her son is gone.

And one last one I read of this morning.  A two year old boy being physically abused by a stranger because he was wearing a pink headband.  Pink was his favourite colour.  He was two.  And a stranger took it upon himself to ‘correct’ the way he expresses himself.  Apparently the two year old would thank him later in life for putting him on the ‘right road’.

My philosophy has always been to treat people as I would want them to treat me.  It’s not complicated.  I just ask myself, what would I want?  Maybe I can’t make up for all the hatred in the world, but even my ‘insignificant part’ (as Gandhi puts it) makes a difference to someone.  Yes, I’m going to feel uncomfortable and would rather not see this stuff, but I’m not prepared to turn my back on the need for compassion in our world.

Yes, I want to change the world.  And why not, when I don’t like what I see?

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” 

― Mother Teresa


15 thoughts on “I Want To Change The World

    1. You got me thinking Tony (thanks). Verse three of the song I had in mind is
      Jesus bids us shine,
      Then, for all around;
      Many kinds of darkness
      In the world are found
      Sin and want and sorrow;
      So we must shine
      You in your small corner,
      And I in mine.

  1. Many thanks, Cate, for your eloquent post and your courage. Margaret Mead cautioned us to never doubt the power of an individual to change the world—because indeed, it is the only thing that ever has! You have made a difference tonight for me as I work through my grief on the 1,265th day following my son’s brutal suicide baiting death in Hallidie Plaza, San Francisco on 2-16-10. Your willingness to look at the world as it is and STILL want to FIX IT is a great comfort to me. Although Yount v City and County of San Francisco is finished on the federal level, we will work next at the state level. Everything in Nazi Germany was legal. Slavery in America was legal. You have given me courage when I desperately needed it! I am not finished being Dylan Yount’s mom. I may not be able to
    “fix” the problem of suicide baiting, but I am not giving up. Many many thanks for your kind words and post.

    1. Hi Kathie, Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment. It means a lot to me as I know your heart must be very full and weighed down. Never finish being Dylan’s mum. He still needs you to keep being her. I wish you strength and courage as you continue your fight. It is worth it. ❤ Cate

  2. Howisbradley

    You alone may not be able to change the world, but in Alcoholics Anonymous there’s a term used frequently: “keep your side of the street clean.” Keep doing that and you’ll be doing more than most. Great post.

    1. I think of it slightly differently to that Brad. I can’t change the whole world by myself, but my part contributes to changing the world. Just by keeping my side of the street clean, I have in fact changed the world (or at least that part of it. Thanks for your comments. 🙂

  3. Pingback: Disappointed By Humanity | Infinite Sadness... or hope?

  4. Yeah, I totally understand the feeling of being overwhelmed by all the terrible in the world. That has brought me down on too many occasions to count, but there is a perspective to have that tells us that we CAN do what we can do. Even if it’s insignificant on a worldwide scale, we can do it and should do it. Then it becomes a matter of remembering to spread a little kindness and respect, and at my age I’m remembering less and less. Grrr.

    1. I think it’s a Gandhi quote that says every drop in the bucket is a ripple in the ocean. I believe that! Even the insignificant makes a difference. As for age, I just try not to think about that.:\

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