A few reflections on making the world better




Human health, the environment, social isolation, food security, conflict, hurricanes, floods, shootings, the fate of American dreamers, racism, tribalism, jungle justice, terrorism, and who knows what else. There is always something going on in this world of ours.

Sometimes I wonder if I am helping enough and then I wonder if I am helping in the right way and for the right reasons. I also hope that life doesn’t get in the way so much that I don’t have time to stop and care, because the truth is we also have our own personal concerns.

In the course of all this thinking a few things came to mind and I wanted to write them down.

Go deeper:

These days, the information comes at us so fast and so often that it is easy to have a minute of outrage and move on, or let it snowball into a sort of generalized despondency. I am not sure that this quick paced way of engaging with issues is transformative enough and I think it can make us intellectually and emotionally lazy.

It could be a good challenge to pick an issue, maybe one that really strikes a cord, to follow a little deeper. For example, you learn about homelessness and find it really bothers you. Imagine if you were to try to understand it in your local community. 

Take a second to give some spare change to that homeless person. Maybe take it a little further by offering to buy them groceries (this was inspired by a loved one I watched do this).

Find out an organization working to solve it and see which ones you really admire. Contribute it to it financially. Volunteer and feel the issue, strengthening your empathy.

Try to think clearly about the issue and think more deeply about it. I enjoyed this podcast especially where the guest talked about thinking clearly. Strengthen your conceptual understanding of it – the statistics, the underlying causes at the individual, communal and policy level. Then merge your thinking with doing as this is the sweet spot. You learn so much by doing. 

You can’t do this for all issues, but maybe there is one that really moves you.

Don’t look away, but also don’t neglect yourself, your loved ones or the good:

There is beauty in our world. There are people helping. There are people who do little good things every day and don’t even want to be seen. There are people loving each other. There are family members and friends looking out for us.

Don’t forget the good or the people close to you. Look for people who are helping, who are getting it right. Preserve the simple beauties in your own life. Who says that being gracious with your family in the simple ways you do is not changing the world? Or that your kindness to your neighbor isn’t a way to change the world?

You don’t need to be sad to make the world a better place, or to acknowledge the suffering in the world. Don’t forget to take care of your own physical and mental health. Don’t be afraid of happiness or think it naive. You deserve to thrive and will be more useful to others when you do.

Conditions will never be perfect:

There will be that meeting we are running late to when our heart is really moving us to stop and give change to the homeless person. We may want to donate to a hurricane relief effort but be waiting to have more money because what can $10 do? There will be bills to pay and so many demands on our time. We may just hope to contribute but never get around to it if we wait for the perfect time. It is easy to take the little we could do for granted. I fall into that trap at times and think – will this even make a difference? But were we to accept conditions are never perfect then we could do just a little.

It doesn’t have to be dramatic. We could start really small and let it grow as we too grow. Then when we have a little more time and resources we can do more. And when we learn more we do better.

Embrace your strengths and weaknesses:

Even with your flaws, you have strengths you probably underestimate. A good sign of your strength is that you take it for granted and so you assume it comes naturally to everyone, except it doesn’t. As you know, our gifts can also be our wounds healed or in the healing process. Perhaps your pain gives you a soft spot for a certain demographic, certain issues, certain places.

Your way in the world and your unique experiences – perhaps your attention to detail, or your skill at listening to others, or your insider’s knowledge of an issue because it once happened to you, are all gifts you could draw from. 

Your weaknesses especially in partnership with people who complement them can be a strength too. Your forgetfulness might be because you are very intuitive. Your bluntness may also mean an assertiveness that will get people to take you and the issue seriously.

These are just a few thoughts that crossed my mind. Feel free to share yours too. So please, don’t let our world overwhelm you into forgetting that you can play a part in making it just a little better.

Finally, a song that always makes me happy :

I wrote a journal to support you (and myself) in courageously sharing our gifts. Consider getting it by clicking here. I hope you will find it valuable.
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