Mahatma Gandhi believed hat we must be the change we want to see in the world. This was well demonstrated when he helped India gain its independence. Gandhi was a revolutionary man, but he accomplished India’s emergence as a nation, without starting a revolution. In fact, he advocated no violence. One of the most powerful countries in the world yielded to the commitment of one man and the dream of millions.
Can you be the change?
In order for things to change, you have to change. We can’t change others; we can only change ourselves. However, when we change, it changes everything. And in doing so, we truly can be the change we want to see in the world.
We live in peculiar times. More communication devices than ever before connect us, yet more people live alone. We want to belong to communities, but our cities can be very lonely place. We buy more and more things with more and more money, but they don’t make us happy. Life satisfaction was higher during post-war rationing in the 1940s. The rich are getting richer, but nearly 10% of Irish people are shockingly poor. The other 90% experience other kinds of poverty.
Most of us feel that our lives are missing something. Membership of political parties and unions continues to decline, yet tens of thousands of Irish people took to the streets to protest water charges and raised millions of euro for tsunami relief and famine relief in the last few years.
We feel things very deeply and we want to do something, but sometimes the scale of the issues makes it difficult for us. We ask ourselves, ‘How can I make a difference? What can I do? How can I be the change?’ And we resign ourselves to the preconceived notion that nothing we do will make a difference anyway and on we go.
Changing the self is how one can be the change. Always remember that this is your world; the things that happen here are directly affected by you. There are no ordinary moments; there are no trivial actions. Everything you do, everything you say (or don’t say) matters. Look at every action and reaction and ask yourself, Am I being the change I want to see in the world?
Part of the human condition seems to be a desire to accomplish noble acts, to be the change, to inspire others to greatness. A fireman rushed into a burning building to rescue a mother and child. A soldier jumps between his comrade and a dangerous land mine. A child climbs a tree to rescue a pet cat. In every walk of life people seek to find ways to be needed, to be important to others, to accomplish things that will benefit mankind.
Our outer world is a mirror of our inner world, with no exceptions. To change our outer world, we must start with our inner world. If you want more prosperity, be more generous and be open to receive generosity from others. If you want more love, be more loving and be more open to receiving love. Stop judging others and practice acceptance and compassion. We cannot change others, only ourselves. Instead of pushing against what others are doing that you perceive to be wrong, focus on yourself.
Gandhi wasn’t alone
The following is inscribed on the tomb of an Anglican Bishop in Westminster Abbey (1100 AD)—’When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world. As I grew older and wiser, I discovered the world would not change, so I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country. But it too seemed immovable.
As I grew into my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those closest to me, but alas they would have none of it. And now, as I lie on my deathbed, I suddenly realise, if I had only changed myself first, then by example I would have changed my family.
From their inspiration and encouragement, I would then have been able to better my country and, who knows, I may have even changed the world.’
Thought for the Week
As your thought for week one, be the change for good you wish to see in your world.