In the moment – change the world

In the moment – change the world

When I was young, I wanted to change the world. Probably you did too. Young people do, don’t they?

In the moment - Gandhi 170626

A few people do indeed grow up and change, if not the world, at least some part of it. Nelson Mandela comes to mind. What a wonderful man! Twenty seven years of brutal imprisonment borne with courage and without bitterness, after which he became an inspirational leader to his nation.

One of the most notable of those who changed the world was Mahatma Gandhi, the architect of India’s independence, and a thinker who wrote many books. He said this:

“You must be the change you want to see in the world.”

This teaches us several things.

  • It is a call to action. If you want something to happen, play your part in bringing it about. For example, while few people can go to Syria to help people suffering in the civil war, we can all donate to Médécins sans Frontières, whose brave volunteers risk their lives to provide medical care.
  • It is a call to set an example. If you want a world that is free of war, live a life that promotes peace within your own community. Take every opportunity of showing caring love to those around you. The effect of a good example is very powerful.
  • It is a guide to good mental health. To have good mental health we must accept the nature of the world as it is. If we don’t, we will always feel conflict. We will feel that the rules by which we live our lives are being broken by other people.

We need to accept the world as it is, and people as they are, and that can be difficult. When I was being treated for anxiety, I was encouraged to develop a mantra that was specific to my needs. After much thought, I chose “I will live my life with joy.” I repeat that and reflect upon it several times a day, and it’s made a big difference.

The world is flawed, yes; mankind struggles to live together in harmony, certainly; but it’s such a beautiful world, and many, many people are good, and loving, and courageous.

For those billions of us who are little people, whose actions will never have a dramatic effect, Gandhi had an encouraging piece of teaching:

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

Nobody else can do it. It’s our task. We are each uniquely qualified to care, to nurture, to love those around us. Even if it’s as small a thing as a hug for someone we can see feels troubled, it’s our hug that’s needed, and our hug that will make a difference.

And, finally, as we live like this, in the realisation and acceptance of our own uniqueness, our own weakness, our insignificance for the world at large but our significance for those around us, we will know the truth of this saying by Gandhi:

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

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