The tsunami and the raindrop

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a traffic jam where I argued that little gestures can have big impacts when cumulative effects are taken into account. This week, I wrote a column on a similar theme.I first got the idea after speaking to a fairly young client who was frustrated by the fact that so many things just weren’t right with the world. I pulled out my old “you can’t change the whole world, you can’t even change the people around you, but you can influence your small part of it” argument.
She didn’t buy it.
For what it’s worth, here it is.
P.S. When I was in high school, I had a friend named Elio. We always swore we’d start a revolution together.

Changing the world
Camillo Zacchia, Ph.D.
Psychologist – Douglas Institute
(source: Changer le monde; Journal Métro, January 29, 2008)

In elementary school we all wanted to be astronauts. We thought the world was a perfect place where everything was possible.

In high school we started realizing that the world was far from perfect. There was pollution, people dying in war-torn countries, beggars in the streets. We all wanted to start a revolution and make the world a better place. Problems were serious but solutions were clear and simple. They just needed people with the right values to fix them, people like us, idealistic and passionate teenagers who were not jaded by life like the older generation seemed to be.

Then we became adults…and nothing was simple. Problems persisted. We still lived in a polluted world with war and poverty. We all seemed to agree what the bigger problems were, yet we could never seem to settle on the solutions, and the ones that we agreed upon were difficult to implement.

The macro world, the micro world
What now? None of us has the singular power to change the big things in life, like crime, war or disease. In the face of a tsunami can one sandbag have any impact? Should we then give up?

What if we were less ambitious and focused only on trying to change things in our micro worlds; like our social circles, our work environments, or our neighbourhoods? Is the picture any brighter? Perhaps a little, but who really has the power to change everything in their own little corner of the world, especially when it involves the hearts and minds of others.

The power of influence
So what do we do? Does the spirit of the adolescent have to give way to hopelessness? No. While we do not have absolute control over all the realities of life, we can have a powerful impact. We do not need control when we have the power of our influence, the power that comes from leading by example.

Treat others with the same respect that you yourself deserve, think critically before voting for a slick politician, accept differences in others, give a needy person a break, ride a bike to work from time to time. In short, by being true to the ideals you had in high school, that revolution will start to happen.

Don’t be disappointed if you lack the power to change the world. The power of the tsunami is made up of water that falls to earth in the form of single raindrops.

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Posted in Human nature, Life, Random thoughts.

Posted on 31 Jan 2008

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