I believe people care. Despite the commonly prevalent apathy and disclaiming of responsibility, there is genuine concern. We care about the planet, we care about community and we do care for other people. We often care so much – that we would rather turn away and pretend that nothing matters.
The belief – ‘I cannot make a difference’ fuels resignation and complacence. Which is quite different from acceptance. Yes, we certainly need to face the facts and see reality the way it is right now. But from thereon, we can each take conscious steps to ‘Be the Change we want to see’. In fact, that is the only way forward. When each individual realizes that every step, no matter how small, is a useful movement in the direction you want to go.
Hopelessness, frustration, or anger all arise from a sense of victimhood. From feeling powerless in the face of larger forces perceived as being out of your control. From believing you do not count. But you can make a difference. In fact, only you can make a difference. Our own actions and inactions are decisive contributors to the world we inhabit.
Stephen Covey discusses the ‘Circle of Concern’ and the ‘Circle of Influence’ in his book ‘Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’, encouraging people to take small yet concrete action steps wherever and whenever they can.
And there are so many people who follow this route. Like the stranger I met in a lovely natural park in the midst of Pune city. He was picking and prodding at the path with a sharp spear like object. When my friends and I got closer, we realized that he was picking up litter with a handmade picker and collecting it into a garbage bag. The instrument looked unique, so we asked him about it. Very matter-of-factly, he explained that he was an engineer and had crafted a bicycle brake into a levered litter picker, so that he could clean the paths as he walked. He explained that he had tried various modifications and was finally satisfied with this piece. Clearly, he was someone who believed in self mastery and in striving for excellence. Not only did he want to clean up the paths – he wanted to do it as efficiently as was possible.
The park itself has been a blessing for me. While it cannot compare with the distant wilderness, it still remains a haven that rejuvenates many a tired soul. I know that there are many anonymous volunteers who plant trees and carry water up the hills, to nurture and nourish this green oasis. The efforts of such nameless leaders – gifts me something so precious, that it cannot be described. I feel overwhelmed with gratitude and admiration for the dedicated efforts of such individuals. With no expectation of recognition, nor instant, dramatic change – they quietly go about making the world a better place. Contributing to the great joy of strangers who walk those forest paths.
What differentiates these catalysts of change from those who give up or give in? What makes one person do whatever he can, while another cynically shakes his head?
I believe it is commitment. The resolution to actively seek out opportunities to contribute to the larger good. Recognizing that you are a part of the larger whole. So it does not require you to quit your job, take to the mountains or give up your personal goals.
It only requires an attitudinal shift. The mindset that is willing, able and determined to align behavior and action with intent.
That is what makes all the difference.
In today’s world, there is no dearth of access to teachers and knowledge. There is demand and admiration for the spiritual paths and practices. But at the end of the day, return to routine – without incorporating change in attitude or habit – is pointless. Practise is what converts knowledge to wisdom. There is no substitute for the experience.
My original thought was to make a list of simple yet significant ways in which one could demonstrate care… But there are any number of ways and websites that can help you with this. Some related links are given below.
With this post, I invite your resolute commitment to small steps… realistic, doable actions that will help you bring a better future alive in the now.
When we do things, instead of only talking about them, or visualizing them – we feel an immediate sense of peace and satisfaction. We have reclaimed our power.
For myself, I would rather do the best I can, instead of feeling like a helpless victim. If nothing else, I will have the satisfaction of knowing I tried. I sincerely did what I could. And that is all that one can do.
If this article strikes a chord, please do share it with others. Let us send out more ripples of change.
Related Links that may inspire creative ideas:
Return to Love (One of my notes from FB)