“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”— Mahatma Gandhi
I’ve always pondered the depth of this quote, trying to figure out how it can be applicable in our times.
With tragedy all around us, with people losing their lives, with loss, heartbreak, divorce, death and separation, sometimes we get so wrapped up in a world filled with defeat and confusion, with hatred and anger, with pain and grief, with arguments and conflict, that we forget how beautiful life still can be, still is. Sometimes it’s so hard to focus on the good when we scroll through social media that’s filled with comparison, helplessness, hopelessness and rage, when we meet people who have their guards up, when we hear stories of someone else’s pain, and when we read news about terrorism, refugees and wars, all of which are projected onto our own broken hearts.
Immediately our hearts sink and happiness collides with sadness and guilt. Sadness for those people experiencing the tragedies of wars and displacement, sadness for terrorists who are so filled with hate that they feel justified to carry out these acts, sadness for the injustices and horrific events that are happening all over this world in so many countries every moment of each day.
And guilt because we feel like we are not doing anything to help, guilt because we don’t know how it is possible to end this hatred and violence. And sometimes guilt for the fact that our lives are mostly filled with extraordinarily beautiful moments and people.
It’s clear I was not alone in experiencing those feelings by the constant stream on Facebook and from overheard conversations throughout the day. I know how hard it is to see the shiny parts of this life. It’s so easy to link life to negative, to only see what’s going wrong instead of what’s going right. To only recognize daily nuisances instead of daily blessings. To only notice the way we can’t agree, instead of the compromise. To only see the end, rather than the beauty that’s continued and the new beginning that’s started.
We sometimes tend to wait for change to happen, thinking that someone else will be the one to take the first step. Someone else will push for the law, call the number, speak up on our behalf. Someone else will make a difference, make things happen in our favor. Someone else will stand up for us and set things right.
We keep telling ourselves that someone somewhere will be the change — but we should ask ourselves why don’t we? What is stopping us?
It is not hopeless and we are not helpless. Believe it or not, together we can change the world. Although we might not know how to solve all the problems this world is facing. One thing I know for sure is that no matter what if you want to make a positive impact you can start now, start small and start with love and compassion for others and for yourself too.
By taking every situation we encounter, being aware of our thoughts and feelings then finding a way to add love, positivity and compassion can only create good. That’s a powerful tool we need to use to tip the balance each day. It is our responsibility to tip the balance and put in more love, positivity and compassion than hate, negativity and rage. We may feel powerless but our power is in our choice:
Do we allow ourselves to be filled with more of the destructive toxic emotions that give birth to such tragedies? Or do we choose to step forward with love?
Against all odds, the best version of this world still exists, and life is still beautiful and filled with good people, but that beauty and good get hidden by the baggage of hate, resentment, fear and anger dumped on us each day. We can’t erase these feelings, but we can lessen their destructive, toxic power using the counter-power of love and compassion.
We may not have all or any of the answers but we have a boundless supply of love, compassion and kindness at our disposal. If we don’t take action and look within ourselves to find these feelings, feel them and share them, if we don’t actively take steps each day in our own lives to tip the balance, then it is our lack of action that becomes the action which makes us helpless and hopeless.
So instead of waiting for the person next to you or hoping things will improve in time — be the change. Be the love. Be the light. Instead of thinking someone else will do what needs to be done. Be the hope. Be the inspiration.
If you want to see the world in a new way, stop waiting for change to just happen out of the blue. If you long for some sense of hope, support, and connection between us as humans, shift your mindset and embrace change.
Be the voice of hope and reason in the darkness. Say the words on your heart. Speak out for something that you don’t agree with. Share love with whomever you meet. When life gets complicated, pray, breathe, and hold on. Seek truth instead of speaking whatever comes to your mind. Listen, rather than speak.
When you notice a person fighting their own battle, offer to help. Be the smile that greets a person who is struggling through their day. Be the solace strangers need. Be the shoulder for ones to lean on and the hand to pull them back to their feet again.
Give people the benefit of the doubt. When you’re inclined to speak with anger, hold your tongue. Always pause — When a conflict arises, avoid lashing out. Learn from others instead of passing judgment. Be open to criticism and learn to accept others, even if you cannot agree.
Be the difference — the person who goes out of his or her way to show love and care. Don’t wait for someone else to say what needs to be said, for another person to step up. Don’t cling to the familiar or your comfort zone out of fear, but be open to the lessons the world can teach you. Don’t live your life waiting — for something to be different, for someone to step up, for something to shift.
Pay it forward. Just one random act of kindness and love at a time can change the world. Be the change you long for, the change the world so desperately needs. And begin right now.
Link to article on Medium Magazine