Be the Change You Wish to See in the World

“Be the Change You Wish to See in the World” is a quote attributed to Mahatma Gandhi.  Although it is a simple statement, it carries a complex message.

Some view it merely as act like what you want to see; to change the world all you must change is yourself.  Others view it as a lesson in how to set a living example for others through one’s own actions.  Both, of course, are true.

In life, we must strive to grow as individuals in order to find fulfillment and be at peace in a world that often appears chaotic.  How can one be of service to others if his/her own needs are not met? However, we must also strive to be living examples to others.  We must take action when we see injustice and we must be a voice for those who cannot stand up for themselves.

We should continually strive for the loftier goals of forgiveness, empathy and compassion, not just in thought, but in deed as well.  It is easy to turn a blind eye to events that don’t seem to directly impact us.  We can sit in judgment of that homeless man on the street, turn a blind eye, or do something to be of assistance.  We can witness atrocities committed against others and turn a blind eye, or we can stand up and do something to help.

In life, it is easy to pay lip service to ideals, but it isn’t always easy to live up to them, especially when it goes against the grain of what is popular.  There are many times in life when what is right is not necessarily what is easy.  When you find the courage to do the right thing, even when it’s difficult – you inspire others to do the same.  It is how great strides in human evolution have always started.

Think of the major advancements that have been made in the past century or so, from the end of slavery to women’s suffrage and desegregation – to name a few.  All of these movements and advances started because one person stood up and decided to become an agent of change and soon, their actions inspired others to further action, until at last the world changed and humanity evolved.

Not all of us will do things this profound perhaps, but we all influence others and we can choose to take actions that inspire both ourselves and others.  When was the last time you felt truly proud of something you accomplished? Any time we do something that pushes us through our perceived limitations to new heights, we become that change.

Think of the last person whose actions inspired you.  Perhaps you know someone who lost a lot of weight and regained their health.  Maybe you worked with someone who trained and ran a marathon, or survived cancer and went on to help others heal. When you think of people who you want to emulate, chances are they are those who have overcome their personal limitations.  They inspire you to want to do the same.

Acts of heroism and great human accomplishments are everywhere when you look for them.  Too often we spend our time focusing on the woes of humanity, the wickedness of the world that is pervasive in the media.  It can be easy to lose sight of all those individuals, those bright lights, who do things daily that are so positive and inspiring.

The good news is, every individual has the power within them to be one of these lights in the world. Every day you have an opportunity to not only shape your own life and destiny, but to be a catalyst for growth and a light in the world.  How will you be the change you wish to see?