What Will It Take to Change the World?
Change is a word that we hear often. Specifically in regards to how we need more of it. Our world is flawed. Always has been, always will be. So flawed that sometimes it seems almost impossible to compensate from the evils it has coursing through it. Yet, we still call for change.
We all know that change just doesn’t happen because we want it to. Change waits until we are strong enough in our belief in it, until it has no choice but to come about.
In recent years there have been major outcries for change on matters such as police brutality, gun control, and terrorism just to name a few. Despite these outcries there has not been much progression in that direction because while our world is flawed it is just as deeply divided. Our world view is too split by race, class, ethnicity, gender, etc. Everyone has their own mindset based on their own experiences. When we do this it’s easy to miss the bigger picture. The bigger picture being that we are all human. We are all flawed. Our “perfection” torn and picked apart by the situations in which society gives us but still we all have something valuable to bring to the table.
No one person or group has directly created the problems that our society faces. They just are, thanks to clashing belief systems.
But we each have the ability to contribute to it. Add fuel to the unruly fires that plague us. We also have the power to help heal the problems that ail our humanity.
I often ask myself, What type of power do I have to do anything? What type of solutions do I have to offer the world when I have yet to find solutions for my own, in comparison, trivial problems?
“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” The Persian poet Rumi’s words ring with certainty. If we want to try our hand at making the world a better place, we have to better ourselves. Practice what we preach.
When hypocrisy runs rampant in our society, which it often does, little gets done to solve the problems that needs to get solved.
Looking back at historic figures like Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, and Mother Teresa, who exuded strength and patience in the name of their beliefs, I wonder if any attempt that I make to effect the world will amount to more than simply a futile effort.
It’s humbling to see how much these individuals and their accomplishments meant to the world. It is also somewhat intimidating to think that whatever I do will never amount close enough to anything that they have done.
But then I remember that no matter how monumental they all are, at the end of it all, they were people. Men and women who practiced what they preached.
Martin Luther King advocated equality and love for all during a time when, if you were not white, being equal to someone that was seemed like an impossible feat. He headed peaceful protest even after being beaten, insulted, and arrested.
Gandhi, a significant inspiration to King, taught the philosophy of passive resistance instead of violence. He dedicated himself to dressing like an Indian farmer or peasant, in simple dhoti and shawls, after witnessing their struggles for himself. Aside from that he too partook in non-violent resistance strategies like hunger strikes and marches. His civil disobedience and fight against oppression landed him in prison multiple time. Yet he didn’t stop advocating what he believed in or acting for the sake of others freedom.
Last but not least, we have Mother Teresa, probably the most famous nun there ever was. She committed her life to not just helping people, but helping people that no one else cared to help. Poor, sick, disabled individuals of all faiths, colors, and nationalities. She heard her calling and she set out to do what she knew needed to be done.
What I have come to accept is that not all of us have go jump right in the middle of our world’s battles in order to aide in the effort of change. To the brave and determined people that do I applaud them for their courage and maybe even envy them of it. But we all don’t have to be a King, a Gandhi, or a Teresa in order to make a difference. We only have to be ourselves since that is the only person that we are capable of being.”Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with love.” This quote came from Mother Teresa, the same woman who simply wandered out into the streets and the slums to give the poor medical help, hope, and whatever else she could.
We are truly the only things that we have the undeniable capacity to change. If we want better, we have to adapt ourselves for better. This is something that I finally comprehended not too long ago when I realized that some of my faults were contradictory to problems that I had with the way certain people and issues, like the ones I listed above, were being treated in not only the media but society as whole. Like many people I know, I can be judgmental, stereotypical, and even condemning without even realizing it. Only after I had thought these things, or gone so far as to say them aloud, did I see how wrong and hypocritical it was of me.
It’s easy to pick up ideas from the media about how particular races, genders, or ethnic groups are. You may even start to believe that all members of a certain group are the same way or want the same thing. When really what they want, just like we all want, is to be treated and seen as our own person. A person that matters. That counts. Who wants to be heard and treated as an equal.
That’s what I remember whenever I find myself about to make a snap judgment about someone that I don’t know. Also, whenever someone that I do know makes an unfair assessment towards another person based on the way they act, look, or handle something I try to remind them that we don’t know who they really are or what their situation is. Sometimes it makes a difference, sometimes I’m told to shut up. Either way, at least I know that I’m doing my part not to perpetuate a false image or idea. I’m trying not to be a part of a problem that I want to fix.
With that being said, I truly believe that the best thing that we can all do to change the world for the better is do like Gandhi says and “be the change you want to see in the world”. It might not be as simple as that for some but for me starting small doesn’t hurt when it makes a big difference in the way generations after us will view the world we leave to them.
Despite how long this essay has been my answer to the question can be summed up in three words: It takes us.
What is your answer?
What do you think it will take to change the world for the better?