You Can Make a Difference
How small steps change the world
Posted Mar 13, 2018
Today’s political scene, economic markets, global pressures and climate changes could leave one wondering “What can be done?” It seems as if every day the news reports another calamity, another blow to things you may hold dear, or more escalating wars in countries where civilians are being killed by the tens of thousands. The old advice of turning off the nightly news might not work if you are constantly connected to your social media – bad news is coming in over the transom faster than you might be able to read it.
When any person reads (or hears) about all of the things coming at them, it can create a form of paralysis; an inability to take a step and start to do something. It all seems so daunting – what difference would it make if you did do some small thing? The anxiety that arises from things coming “at” you can create a sense of doom, or a feeling of it all being just too much. You might want to attempt to do something, but you are frozen in place because it all seems hopeless. This sense of paralysis is real, and if you are experiencing deep depression or suicidal thoughts as a result, you should seek medical care and speak with a trained counselor.
If you are suffering negative responses, but not at a point where you are completely paralyzed, there are some things you can do. Even the smallest step a person takes can have resonance wide and far. This is known as the butterfly effect: This effect grants the power to cause a hurricane in China to a butterfly flapping its wings in New Mexico. It may take a very long time, but the connection is real. If the butterfly had not flapped its wings at just the right point in space/time, the hurricane would not have happened.
In times of experiencing the “what in the world can I do?” feeling, it’s important to remember that you hold your own personal power at every moment. There are many things you control – your actions and reactions, your communication approach and what you say, your treatment of others, your choices and the steps you take. In times of powerlessness, it’s important to find every way you can to exert your positive energy and positive power. Try not to get drawn into the negativity and morass, but rather keep your head level and objective and decide what you CAN do differently. What is the one step you could take? The one thing you can control and influence? Every flap of the butterfly wings has an effect – how much more can you influence as a human being?
When you start to think you’d be better off staying under the covers someday and just not dealing with any of it, instead resolve to get out of bed and take some of the following steps:
- Focus your attention on those things you can control and influence. It can be important to write down all of the things you are concerned about, or that are obstacles for you right now. Make a list and be sure to capture everything. Once you have finished the list, go back and circle those things you can control and influence. Start to plan steps you can take for the things you could control, and – for the time being – ignore the things you can’t. Once they are written on your list, put them to the side mentally as well as physically, and put your energies toward something you can do.
- Take one small step. Recently with the gun debate, a group of concerned suburban mothers got together for a postcard writing campaign at a local Starbucks. They had cards made up and sat together to write letters to companies who support assault weapons. In another case, people were outraged that a retiring police officer could not retire with his canine companion, who was due to be auctioned off for sale. Almost half a million people signed a petition, and the decision was made to allow the K-9 cop to retire with her partner. These are a couple of examples of large issues that may seem insurmountable, but people took steps to do something. You may agree or disagree with their perspective on either of these issues, but remember the quote by Margaret Mead: Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. If you are upset about something, and you care, then take a small step and contribute to your own cause or interest.
- Find someone to be nice to today. What difference would this make in the overall global issues you may be concerned about? Because how we treat one another is like the butterfly’s wings. If you were to influence a person today with positivity, it’s possible that person would influence the next person, and then the next. You could start a tide turning by just taking one small step. The “wave” at the local sporting event starts with one person, and then others follow along. Start a wave – make it positive.
- Take that one step you are afraid to take. You might have read about a local meeting where people are getting together to talk about issues they want to part of. You might think “Those are strangers and I don’t feel comfortable,” or maybe it is a march you wanted to attend but you are worried “Will I be safe?” or it is information or education you need to get but you think “I don’t know enough.” Your self-talk is often going to stop you from taking that next step, so be aware of what you are telling yourself. You can try something. Yes, you can.
- Remember that life is fluid. While worrisome things are happening everywhere, they have been happening since the beginning of time. Life ebbs and flows – some times are more difficult than others, but human beings are resilient. You are resilient, and you have the opportunity to make a difference right now. Make it.